This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

East Karelia (Russia), 1919-1920

Last modified: 2002-12-20 by antonio martins
Keywords: aurora borealis | northern lights | swallowtail | bear (black) | chain | cross: scandinavian (black) | cross: scandinavian (blue) |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

[Historical karelian flag]
by Stuart Notholt and Edward Mooney, 05 Jul 1999

See also:


The East Karelians were quickly caught in the middle of the struggles between red and white Russian forces, the intervention forces under the British and Finnish volunteer expeditions. The military situation changed quickly. However, the East Karelians worked to set up a government of their own.

In July 1919 a conference of delegates from White Sea Karelian parishes met in Uhtua and appointed an East Karelian Committee that acted as a provisional government of East Karelia. This provisional government organized the first East Karelian Diet, elected by universal suffrage and consisting of representatives from twelve municipalities (or parishes). The Diet sat from 21 March to 1 April 1920 in Uhtua and appointed a regular six-member government. On 22 March the diet called for independence from Russia and adopted arms and a flag. The flag and arms were designed by Finnish artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela.

Jan Oskar Engene, 23 May 1997

Description of the flag

Paskov [pas94] shows three varieties of the flag. One is a Scandinavian cross flag of green field with a black cross bordered in red. This flag is simply labelled the flag of East Karelia by Paskov.
Jan Oskar Engene, 23 May 1997

Reading [lau97], it seems fairly clear that compared to the flag of Finland, the cross flag of East Karelia was similar, but not identical. The slight difference is due to the narrow red cross, which has just been added to the model provided by the Finnish flag. As a result, it seems the proportions of the East Karelian flag were 4-1/2-3-1/2-4 along the hoist and 5-1/2-3-1/2-10 along the length of the flag. I am not sure about proportions for the swallow-tailed war flag.
Jan Oskar Engene, 17 Jul 2000

Although reported to be [currently] in actual use, the [current] official status of this flag is not clear.
Stuart Notholt, 17 Sep 1995

According to Laurla, [lau97] the cross flag «is now used as an ethnic flag of the original Carelians in the Russian Republic of Carelia». Thus, it appears that it has no official status, but that it is actually in use by Karelians (I have myself seen a photo of this flag flying on a small boat on an East Karelian lake).
Jan Oskar Engene, 17 Jul 2000

Many variations

Laurla [lau97] mentions that in addition to the national, state and war flags, three additional flags were introduced: A pilot flag, a post flag, and a customs flag. These flags all had black cantons with a yellow emblem (a post horn for the post flag, the emblems for the two others are difficult to understand just from the drawings, thought the emblem on the pilot flag might be a pair of crossed oars).
Jan Oskar Engene, 17 Jul 2000

The dimensions of the cross differ among all three flags shown in Paskov's book, but I doubt that this was actually the case. In the simplest flag, the red and black parts of the flag is same size, while the black part is thicker than the red parts in the two other flags.
Jan Oskar Engene, 23 May 1997

State flag

[State Flag]
by Jan Oskar Engene, 23 May 1997

A similar flag with a red canton set with six white design elements representing the northern lights (aurora borealis) is lablled «The Civil/Folk/Flag of the Uhtua Government» by Paskov [pas94], which sounds strange. Laurla [lau97] mentions this as the state flag of East Karelia.
Jan Oskar Engene, 17 Jul 2000 and 23 May 1997

War flag

[War Flag]
by Jan Oskar Engene, 23 May 1997

The third flag, the war flag, has short swallowtails and tongue (like some Finnish flags) and an adaption of the arms in both green fields close to the hoist. This consists of a bear raising a sword over its head and standing on a broken chain. Over the head of the bear is set four white aurora borealis elements. Paskov [pas94] shows this without the red square in the intersection of the arms of the cross, which appears to be wrong.
Jan Oskar Engene, 17 Jul 2000 and 23 May 1997

A second East Karelian Diet, meeting 11-16 June 1920, voted to set up an army and to mobilize. However, the red Russian forces took the East Karelian territory in the early summer of 1920 and the at the end of June the East Karelian government fled to Finland. In exile the government of East Karelia joined forces with the Government of Aunus and representatives of two municipalities to form a Karelian Central Government and a Karelian Foreign Delegation (December 1920). In East Karelia itself, resistance was organized against the Russian Bolsheviks. A war of liberation was launched in 1921-22 and a new temporary government appointed at Uhtua. The struggle was unsuccessful in the end and the government was forced to flee to Finland once again.
Jan Oskar Engene, 23 May 1997