Lithuanian-Byelorussian SSR Edit
Byelorussian SSR Edit
The flag of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic was adopted by decree on December 25, 1951. The flag was slightly modified in 1956 when construction details were added for the red star, and golden hammer and sickle. The final specifications of the flag was set in Article 120 of the Constitution of the Byelorussian SSR and are very similar to the current Belarusian flag. The flag had a length-to-width ratio of one to two (1:2), just like the flag of the Soviet Union (and the other fourteen union republics). The main portion of the flag was red (representing the Revolution), with the rest being green (representing the Belarusian forests). A pattern of white drawn on red decorated the hoist portion of the flag; this design is often used on Belarusian traditional costumes. In the upper corner of the flag, in the red portion, a gold hammer and sickle was added, with a red star outlined in gold above it. The hammer represented the worker, and the sickle the peasant; according to Soviet ideology, these two symbols crossed together symbolized co-operation between the two classes. The red star, a symbol commonly used by Communist parties, was said to stand either for the five social groups (workers, youth, peasants, military, and academics), the five known continents, or the five fingers of the worker's hand. The hammer, sickle and star were sometimes not displayed on the reverse of the flag. The purpose for this design was that the Byelorussian SSR, along with the Soviet Union and the Ukrainian SSR, were admitted to the United Nations in 1945 as founding members and needed distinct flags for each other. The designer of the flag was Milkahil Gusyev.
1918, 1991-1995 Edit
The design of the flag used between 19 September 1991 and 5 June 1995 had originally been devised by the Belarusian People's Republic (March to December 1918). The original person behind the design of the flag is believed to have been Klaudzi Duzh-Dusheuski before 1917 and this design is known in Belarusian as the byel-chyrvona-byely s'tsyah (Бел-чырвона-белы сьцяг; literally "white-red-white flag"). Red and white have traditionally been used in state heraldry of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The colors are also based on those of the coat of arms Pahonia that was a traditional coat of arms of Belarusian lands and had a white horseman on a red background. There are several other theories explaining the flag's origin. One theory speaks of an allusion to the name of the country: White Ruthenia.
Variations of this flag were used during the Belarusian People's Republic in 1918–1919. The white-red-white flag is still used by the Republic's government-in-exile. Lasting from 1919 until 1925, the flag of the BPR retained the white, red, white design, but with the addition of black stripes at the top and bottom of the red stripe. Between 1921 and 1939 the white-red-white flag was used by the Belarusian national movement in West Belarus (part of the Second Polish Republic), both by political organizations like the Belarusian Peasants' and Workers' Union or the Belarusian Christian Democracy, and non-political organizations like the Belarusian Schools Society. The flag was also used by the Belarusian Special Battalion in the army of the Republic of Lithuania. After the invasion of Poland and the annexation of modern-day West Belarus in 1939 the flag was forbidden by the Soviet administration in the newly acquired territories as well.
In 1941 the flag was allowed for usage by the Nazi occupation administration, and it appeared on arm patches of Belarusian volunteers in the German Army and Waffen SS and was used by the Belarusian Central Rada, the pro-German government of Belarus in 1943–1944. After the end of World War II the flag was used by Belarusian diaspora in the West and by small groups of anti-Soviet resistance in Belarus itself. In late 1980s the flag was again used as a symbol of national revival and democratic changes in Belarus. By proposal of the Belarusian Popular Front the flag became state symbol of Belarus upon its regaining of independence in 1991.
After 1995 the white-red-white flag is used as a symbol of the opposition to the regime of Alexander Lukashenko, most notably at the protests after the 2006 and 2010 presidential elections and at mass rallies on Freedom Day celebrations as well as Dziady memorial marches. The flag is not officially banned from public usage, but is treated by the authorities as an unregistered symbol which means that demonstration of it by political activists or sports fans can lead to arrests and confiscation of the flags. In early 2010, the political activist Siarhei Kavalenka was arrested for placing the white-red-white flag atop a Christmas tree on the central square of Vitsebsk. The court gave Kavalenka three years of suspended sentence which was followed by a second arrest and Kavalenka's several weeks long hunger strike. The hunger strike was interrupted by force-feeding on 16 January 2012.
The referendum that was held to adopt the state symbols took place on May 14, 1995. With a voter turnout of 64.7%, the new flag was approved by a majority in the ratio of three to one (75.1% to 24.9%). The other three questions were also passed by the voters. The way of carrying out the referendum as well as the legality of questioning the national symbols on a referendum was heavily criticized by the opposition. When compared to the voting population as a whole, only 48.7% supported the adoption of the modified Soviet symbols. Opposition parties claim that this failure to win a majority is a violation of the law, but Belarusian law states that only a majority of eligible voters is needed to decide on a referendum issue. Upon the results going in favor of President Lukashenko, he proclaimed that the return of the Soviet-style flag brought a sense of youth and pleasant memories to the nation.
Lukashenko had tried to hold a similar referendum before, in 1993, but failed to get parliamentary support. Two months before the May 1995 referendum, Lukashenko proposed a flag design that consisted of two small bars of green and one wide bar of red. While it is not known what became of this suggestion, new designs (called "projects" in Belarus) were suggested a few days later, which were then put up to vote in the 1995 referendum.
Flag used since 2012.
Presidential standard Edit
Alexander Lukashenko's proposed flag Edit
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