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Belarus - Historical Flag (1918,1991-1995)

Last modified: 2003-07-05 by dov gutterman
Keywords: belarus | ussr | europe | commonwealth of independent states | national ornamentation | referendum | belorussia | byelorussia |
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by Zeljko Heimer, 24 April 1996

See also:

Editorial Remark: It must be noted that all the opinions are the authors opinions and not of FOTW.Our site is non-political and concentrates only on vexillological issues.

The White-Red-White Flag

The white in the flag is an allusion to the name of the country - 'White Russia' (or 'White Ruthenia'). The red is for national freedom and the rising sun. White and red frequently appear in the national costumes of White Ruthenians.
Stuart Notholt

I found some news from Belarus:
from NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 165, Part II, 21 November 1997 (<>):
"LUKASHENKA OPPONENTS STAGE FLAG PROTEST. On the first anniversary of the vote that gave President Alyaksandr Lukashenka sweeping powers, Belarusians opposed to his rule displayed the now outlawed red-and-white national flag, RFE/RL's Belarusian service reported on 20 November. Some flags were so large that the authorities had to use heavy-duty equipment to remove them. No single group has taken responsibility for the latest protest."
Christian Berghnel, 6 December 1997

Is the W-R-W actually outlawed in Belarus then? I mean rather than simply no longer being used.
Roy Stilling
, 6 December 1997

I found two sites about the Belarusian national flag. It must be noted that all the opinionss in those sites are the authors opinions and not of FOTW's.Our site is non-political and concentrates only on vexillological issues. The notification obout the sites is merely an acknowledgement of their existance.
1) <>
2) <>
Dov Gutterman, 2 July 1999

from <>:
The origins of the traditional white - red - white Belarusian flag are lost in the mists of ancient history. It is possible that the banner was designed simply to distinguish Belyj Rus (White Russian) forces from those of the Princes of Kiev and Muscovy by placing the red favored by the Rus on a background of white.
But the traditional story is that when the united armies of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Litva and Rus defeated the Germans of the Teutonic Order at the great Battle of the Grunewald in 1410, a wounded Belarusian knight tore off his blood-streaked bandage and waved it aloft as a victory banner. That banner has been flown ever since, so the story goes, as a sign that Belarus will always prevail -- no matter how badly wounded it may be!
Jarig Bakker, 9 July 1999

The old Bielorussian colours have always been the white and red and in fact the flag of the first independent government of a "Byelorussian People's Republic" (in exile in Vilnius from 1919-1925) was a white flag with a red horizontal band of red, the central red stripe being bordered by a thin black stripe.
Emil Dreyer, 30 September 1999

The German weekly news magazine "Der Spiegel" sometimes contains photos with flags. At issue 7 of 2001 (p. 166) you can the former prime minister of Belarus, Chigir, with some tiny desktop flags, one of them white-red-white with some device in the centre. See <>.
Marcus Schmoger, 28 Febuary 2001

In to today's New York Times, there is an article about the recent election in Belarus with a photo of dissidents flying the W-R-W flag.
Al Kirsch, 11 September 2001

The white-red-white flag was official during the National Republic, which lasted only nine months (March-December 1918), before the occupation of the country by the Soviets. Its official use was restaured in 1991, but abolished by Alyaksandr Lukashenka in 1995. The great historian and patriot Vaclau Lastouski, president of the Democratic Republic (1919-1923), afterwards murdered by Stalin, proposed that the name of the country should be changed to "Kryvija", in order to distinguish Belarus as much as possible from Russia (the "Kryvitci" or Kryvians were a Slavic tribe in the Middle Ages). To tell the truth, the name "Belarus" is much older than "Rossija".
Xabier Zabaltza, 18 April 2002