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Russian subnational flags

Last modified: 2002-12-20 by antonio martins
Keywords: respublika | oblast | kray | okrug | rayon | avtonomniy okrug | avtonomniy oblast |
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[Information in these lists and in the presentation of each division was compiled from various posts, contributed especially by William Crampton, Michael Simakov, Pascal Vagnat, Jorge Candeias Pascal Gross, Stuart Notholt, Antnio Martins, Viktor Lomancov, Mark Sensen and Jos Poels, some of them dating from as early as 1995. ed.]

See also: Other sites:
  • Civic flags registered in the Union of Heraldists of Russia,
    reported by Pascal Gross, 12 Jan 2000
  • Victor Lomantsovs civic heraldry and vexillolgy pages.
  • Sovereign flags and coats of arms of Russian regions (by Yury Rocich): at and
    reported by Michael Simakov, 12 Jan 2000

    This site was designed by Yu. Rocich. He wanted to make a big site on flags and arms. Many people helped to Yuri (and me too). But now Yuri is very busy, and the work on site is stopped until unknown date. The information of this site is not complete, of course.
    Victor Lomantsov, 09 Dec 2001

    reported by J. J. Andersson, 01 Feb 2002

    Most images were indeed taken from FOTW, and displayed (granted that in a reduced format) without any acknowledgment, becoming obsolete as FOTW-ws evolves
    Antnio Martins, 02 Feb 2002

  • Huge Russian heraldic site; it includes a large section on flags, too.
    reported by Zeljko Heimer, 18 Apr 2001

    I think they took their images from FOTW or other famous flag-sites. Some are now outdated.
    Victor Lomantsov, 18 Apr 2001

    That is Ilya Morozovs site. It shows a peculiar selection of flags. Most of them (98 out of 100) come either from Pascals site or from FOTW some were taken from our site, some directly from our mailing list. Most of the older images were meanwhile replaced on FOTW-ws with better ones. (Id also call your attention to the strange translation options: oblasth being not translated and krai~ being anglicized as "region" usually it is "territory", while "region" is prefered for oblasth.)
    Antnio Martins, 29 Nov 2002

  • Symbols of members of the Russian Federation
    reported by Jorge Candeias
  • Flags of Russian Federation's Cities and Towns
    reported by Dov Gutterman, Jan 2002

    Shows images taken from Ilya Morozov's website...
    Pascal Gross, 28 Jan 2002

  • Map, flags and arms of the subdivisions of Russia
    reported by Istvn Molnr, 04 Dec 2001
  • City website, with all the cities, regions, republics etc. of the Russian federation, showing the arms or flags.
    reported by Fred Drews, 28 Mar 1999
  • Blazons of Russian Towns, by Ilya Morozov
    reported by Antnio Martins, 06 Nov 2001
  • Website displaying a lot of coat of arms of Russian towns.
    reported by Pascal Gross, 29 Jan 2001
  • Website with coats of arms of Russian cities.
    reported by Istvn Molnr, 08 Jan 2001
  • Website with some coats of arms of Russian town. (Only in Russian!)
    reported by Istvn Molnr, 04 Dec 2001
  • Arms of the Russian Cities in english; also in russian, in the encodings Win1251, ISO 8859-5, DOS (IBM 866), KOI8-R and Mac
  • Rusline, with a lot of information about Regions and Territories.
    reported by Dov Gutterman, 17 Dec 1998

Russian subnational flags

All Russian Federation subdivisions are entitled to have flags, but subjects other than republics were allowed to adopt flags only shortly before (or in early) 1994.
Antnio Martins, 20 Dec 1999 and 11 Mar 2000

Left without flag now are only the following 1st order subdivisions [flags meanwhile adopted overstriken and new info added ed.]

  • Arkhangelsk region (officially confirmed as flagless as of 2002.02.08; private proposals circulate)
  • Kaliningrad region (officially confirmed as flagless as of 1999.03.06; official workgroup to create a flag known to be set up as of 2002.02.26)
  • Kaluga region (flag adopted on 2001.12 no image yet)
  • Kamchatka region (flag adopted on 2002.02 no image yet)
  • Kirov region (situation unknown)
  • Lipetsk region (confirmed as flagless as of 1998.12.22 and (officially) 2000.02.16)
  • Murmansk region (official competition announced on 1999.02.15; project officially presented on 2002.03.15)
  • Nenetsia (official competition announced on 1997.01.28)
  • Nizhny-Novgorod region (confirmed as flagless as of 1999.03.01 and 2000.04.24)
  • Novgorod region (officially confirmed as flagless as of 2002.02.08; informal flag officially suggested on 1999.05.31 but as of 1999.11.15 apparently not used)
  • Novosibirsk region (official coat of arms competition announced in 2000)
  • Omsk region (unconfirmed adoption in 1999; official competitions announced on 1995.02.27 and 1997.12.09)
  • Orel region (flag adopted on 2002.07.31)
  • Penza region (flag adopted in late 2002 still not fully approved)
  • Perm region (official workgroup to create a flag known to be set up as of 1998.10.14; flag for the governor adopted on 1996.11.22)
  • Pskov region (flag adopted on unknown date no image yet)
  • Tambov region (official workgroup to create a flag known to be set up as of 2002.02.26)
  • Tula region (situation unknown)
  • Ulyanovsk region (situation unknown)
Pascal Gross, 05 Feb 2002

Russian subdivisions flag laws are quite similar and actually they follow each other almost word by word and in turn were based on the current russian constitution (article about the flag, coat-of-arms, anthem and capital) and flag laws which in turn was taken with minor differences from the soviet constitution of 1980, or possibly earlier.
Antnio Martins, 20 Jan 2000

Unstrict enforcement of flag laws (regarding design) is not uncommon Adygeia flies a medium green flag and its law says dark aquamarine, Yakutia flys a medium blue flag and its laws says light blue, Chuvashia flies a medium red flag and it's law says dark red, and probably more.
Antnio Martins, 19 Apr 2000

Russian subnational coats-of-arms

In some russian regions (V. Novgorod, f.i.) we have detected a pattern that the regional coat of arms is the same as the capital city coat of arms (which in turn is identical to the pre-1917 coat of arms), but with the traditional achievements (imperial crown and oak wreath with band), while the current city coat of arms shows only a civic crown.
Antnio Martins, 04 Jan 2000

In russian heraldry (rules of 1857):

  • arms of towns must have red ribbons (St. Alexander Order) and mural crowns of diferent colours
  • arms of territories (oblast) must have red ribbons and ancient prince crowns
  • arms of governorates (gubernia) blue ribbons (St. Andrew Order) and imperial crowns. The capitals (Moscow and St. Petersburg) used the imperial crowns on the city arms too.
  • Several ancient towns had special crowns (like ancient crowns of czars).
Modern Regions of Russian Federation are the Governorates in the past. Thats why they use blue ribbons on their arms (they copy old governorates arms, sometimes with imperial crown (Orenburg Region, Tomsk Region etc), sometimes without the crown (Saratov Region, Ulianovsk Region etc).
Victor Lomantsov, 07 Oct 2000

All major cities were granted arms during the tzarist era these exist today at least as traditional, unofficial coat of arms. In many cities, these have been officially (re)approved as official. And note that some even have had different coats of arms thrughout time, incl. in the soviet era, (e.g., Osmk).
Antnio Martins, 02 Jul 2001

We have seen that in most cases the adopted arms are identical to the pre-1917 version, if not in detail, at least blazoned in the same way. This is true for most division capital cities, for many non-capital cities and even for the regions and territorries themselves (though excluding most republics and a few of the other divisions).
Antnio Martins, 08 Apr 2000

Construction of civic arms divided per fess (with arms of provincial centre in upper part) is used in Russia since 1780ths. But in fact shields without provincial arms in upper part are used (since 1850ths) very often. The shield with prov arms looks old fashioned.
Victor Lomantsov, 30 Mar 2000

Subdivisions of Russia

Russia is divided in 89 entities, called collectively subjects of the federation ( | subwekty federacii, sing. | subwekt federacii). As an heritage from the soviet era, each of these fall into one of the following cathegories (followed by the number of units for each):

  • republic ( | respublika) 21
  • territory ( | krai~) 6
  • region ( | oblasth) 49
  • autonomous district ( | avtonomnyi~ okrug) 10
  • autonomous region ( | avtonomnaa^ oblasth) 1
  • federal city ( | gorod federalhnogo podc^inenia^) 2
Though these are all first order divisions, the autonomous districts depend administratively from a neighbouring region or territory (but never from a republic!) with the notable exception of Chukchia.

Although Russia is still a very centralized country, it is nominally a federation and these first order divisions have each a constitution and locally elected government and parlament as they are also entitled to have each a flag, an anthem and a coat of arms.

Immediately after 1991, the republics inherited (or upgraded themselves to) the status soviet ASSRs enjoyed, nominally autonomous inside RSFSR as opposed to the other divisions at the same level. In 1994, though, this state of affairs changed and the privilegies enjoyed by the republics were extended to all russian first order divisions.

There are still differences between republics and other first order divisions. For instance, while the first have a president ( | prezident), the former have a governor ( | gubernator); while the first have a capital ( | stolica), the later have a center ( | centr); the word "republic" is always capitalized, while the other names are always in lower case; etc. But these are skin deep differences and in practice the way each region deals with the central government has little or nothing to do with its cathegory (again, except autonomous districts though including Chukchia). And this, as said, includes flags.

Of course the motive for soviet differenciation of ASSRs was the fact that these are regions inhabited by ethnic non-russians though a severe critique about fairness and accuracy in the implementation of this principle would fill a thick book (it did fill some, actually) The same rationale applied to the autonomous districts and autonomous regions.

Antnio Martins, 04 Apr 2000

Second order divisions

As for second order divisions (subdivisions of first order divisions) in Russia, they fall on either of these cathegories:

  • county ( | rai~on)
  • county-status city, with several denominations, according to the status of its containing first order division:
    • city subjected to a republic ( | gorod respublikanskogo podc^inenia^)
    • city subjected to a region ( | gorod oblastnogo podc^inenia^)
    • city subjected to a territory ( | gorod kraevogo podc^inenia^)
    • city subjected to a[n autonomous] district ( | gorod okruz^nogo podc^inenia^)
The first is usually a rural area, while the others are urban nucleous with separate administration, being usually a whole on the map of the first. (Centers/capitals of first order divisions are always county-status cities.) These too have local governments and are intitled to have flags: All 1805+1004 of them, as of 1980 (according to SSSR Administrativno-territorialhnoe Delenie Sou^znyq Respublik of 1980). As for flag labeling, the first could be "county flag" and the others "city flag".
Antnio Martins, 04 Apr 2000

Third order divisions

Federal cities, though, do not have second order divisions, rather (for their size) being subdivided in third order divisions, just like second order divisions themselves. These are also of several types:

  • city district ( | gorodskoi~ rai~on)
  • county subject city, or rather city subjected to a county ( | gorod rai~onnogo podc^inenia^), or, simply, city
  • city-status town ( | pose"lok gorodskogo tipa)
  • village council ( | selhsovet)
The first two are urban, covering respectively a part of one of the city types above (first or second level divisions) or the whole of a (smaller) city. The two second types are rural and cover wider areas, though centered on a given settlement. Flag labels can be respectively "district flag", "city flag" (like the above), "town flag" and "local council flag".

Seats of Village Councils may be:

  • village-status town ( c | pose"lok selhskogo tipa)
  • village ( | selo)
  • [wooden] village ( | derevna^)
  • [masoned] village ( | sloboda)
  • [turkic] village ( | kis^lak)
  • ranch ( | qutor)
Im not sure about flags for these third order divisions but Id bet that, even if legally intitled to it, most of the 22681 village councils, or of the 2065 city-status towns, or of the 366 city districts, or of the 449 cities of Russia (according to SSSR Administrativno-territorialhnoe Delenie Sou^znyq Respublik of 1980) couldnt afford to have a flag approved or manufactured.

Antnio Martins, 04 Apr 2000

Federal Districts (a.k.a. regions of presidential decentralization)

In the portuguese newspaper Pblico of May 19 theres a report on a division of Russia in 7 large regions, each with an appointed representative of the central power, designed to control the subjects of the federation. [See list.] I suppose these regions have no flags, at least yet. (So, Id say that the the russian region of the Far East is the largest flagless area on Earth.)
Jorge Candeias, 26 May 2000

At first glance, these seem to coincide with the economic regions, but there are a lot of differences:

  • Northwestern Region: Includes the current Northwestern and Northern economic regions.
  • Central Region: Includes the current Central - Black Soil and Central economic regions.
  • Northern Caucasus: Includes the current Northern Caucasus economic region and part of the current Volga economic region.
  • Volga: Includes the current Volga - Vyatka economic region and parts of the current Volga and Ural economic regions.
  • Ural: Includes parts of the current Ural and Western Siberia economic regions.
  • Siberia: Includes the current Eastern Siberia economic region and part of the current Western Siberia economic region.
  • Far-East: Coincides with the current Far-East economic region.
Im almost sure that these divisions will not have any distinctive flag these appointed representatives of the president may have an office flag, but identical to all seven of them, I guess.
Antnio Martins, 27 May 2000

Economic regions

There are also the economic regions ( | e^konomic^eskii~ rai~on) [See list], which are not administrative divisions and do not have flags. There are 11 of them, and their borderlines follow the limits of the first order divisions. These regions are almost identical to those of the soviet era, the only differences being the new Northern economic region (including Karelia, Komia, Nenetsia, Vologda Region, Arkhangelsk Region and Murmansk Region) carved out from the Northwestern economic region, and the joining to the Northwestern economic region of Kaliningrad Region. I am not sure wheather these regions will be superceded by the recently approved federal districts.
Antnio Martins, 04 Apr 2000 and 01 Jun 2001

Stamps of these and other places

I think theyre official, though issued exclusively as philatelic items, thus quite seldom used to post letters and parcels. And if so theyre mint in Moscow and are almost surely not avaliable on the locations they supposedly refer to, like Australian Antartica stamps and so on.
Antnio Martins, 07 Nov 2000

Status and border changes, cp. the Soviet era

Some former autonomous units upgraded themselves to full sovereignship inside the Fussian Rederation since 1991:

Antnio Martins, 09 Apr 2000

This means that only Adygeya, Altay Republic, Karachay-Cherkessia, Khakassia, Jewish Autonomous Region and Chukchia changed their dependent status (the two latter not having changed their denominations, which is most confusing). All other areas (Aghin Buriatia, Evenkia, Khantia-Mansia, Koryakia, Nenetsia, Perms Komia, Taymyria, Ust-Ord Buriatia and Yamal Nenetsia) were and remain dependent from another federation subject, though all 89 of them are considered to be federation subjects of their own (which is also most confusing).
Antnio Martins, 29 May 2000