The real story of the Novorossiya flag


December 6, 2015 –

Alexander Chalenko, PolitNavigator – 

Translated for Fort Russ by J. Arnoldski 

“How the flag of Novorossiya was imagined 2 years ago”

Having been forced to leave Kiev after the victory of the Euromaidan, journalist Alexander Chalenko (now working for the publication, explained in an author column for PolitNavigator how 2 years ago the flag of Novorossiya, under which the militia of Donbass went on to win huge victories, was thought up with like-minded people:

…Today on the Facebok wall of Alexander Vasiliev I read the following: “We are being reminded on Facebook of how 2 years ago Alexander Chalenko proposed spreading a picture across social networks, and I’ve written a corresponding post. Actually, it all started with creating a logo for a specific political project, but I’ll tell you all about this later.”

He’s talking about the flag of Novorssiya. Vasilev had this in mind when he spoke of a certain “picture.” I am extremely proud of the fact that together with him I was involved in the creation of what is probably the most beautiful flag on earth.

I don’t remember exactly if it was before or after the first Maidan, but in an article on the Kiev site “From-ua”, Central Ukraine was called Little Russia (Molorossiya), and the South-East was called Novorossiya. I don’t recall the author of this publication, but he terrifically pleased me. Since that time, I have used this name.

For me, the South-East became Novorossiya. Justifications as to why this territory should be the Russian Federation, and not Ukraine, were misleading in my opinion.

In Ukraine at that time, only three Black Sea regions were called Novorossiya – Odessa, Nikolaev, and Kherson, and not the territory stretching from Kharkov and Lugansk to Bessarabia. Supposedly, if you read history, Kharkov is no “Novorossiya..” Historically, it is “Sloboda Ukraine.” 

In response to the reasonable question, excuse me, but the fact that someone considered Galicia to be Ukraine 200-300 years ago was only shrugged at. All this “Novorossiyan idea”, in their eyes, looked like something not so serious or marginal. 

The current borders of the “land of St. Andrew”, in the minds of those who would be the future vatniks and colorados, were only “discovered” during the Euromaidan and the first month of the Russian Spring. That is, the idea of Novorossiya was picked up by millions of Russians only relatively recently, and this all happened right before our eyes.

Now about the St. Andrew’s flag and the double-headed eagle.

In the beginning of 2005, immediately after the victory of the [first] Maidan, a Donetsk historian, journalist, and political scientist, Vladimir Kornilov, the future author of the first history of the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Republic, asked me to work with him and the former General Prosecutor of Ukraine, Gennady Vasiliev, as a political strategist. Gennady Andreevich was from the “Derzhava” party [”power” or “state” party – J. Arnoldski] which Gennady Andreevich saw as an oppositional, anti-Orange, and pro-Russian party. Kornilov and I were supposed to help him. 

In turn, I invited the Orthodox hardhead from Kiev, Dmitry Skvortsov, to join us. The need for his services was due to the fact that Gennady Vasiliev was Orthodox.

And then one day we were sitting in one of the offices of Derzhava in Podol, and we realized that it would be necessary to come up with a new flag for the party – a spectacular one. At that time, the official party banner looked like this: “Derzhava” was written in “Golden Church Slavonic letters” on a burgundy background.

I suggested that the new flag should be deep red and that the “Derzhava” logo be removed. Instead of it, there would be St. Andrew’s cross. They more or less supported me.

Then, I remember, I said: “The ‘symbol’ of the party should be…”

And then Kornilov interrupted me and said: “the double headed eagle.”

We liked it so much that we immediately agreed. The eagle, which was pulled together along with all of this using photoshop, couldn’t be found in double-headed form anywhere on the internet. And then Kornilov remembered that he had once photographed the gates of a Greek church office which were adorned with an eagle. We cut it, and after photoshopping and scaling, placed it on the flag. Our proposals, alas, were never implemented…

But it was then that I realized that any Russian movement in Ukraine and in general anything politically Russian should have two symbols: St. Andrew’s cross and the double-headed eagle. 

In 2011 I think it was, in an interview or in a column for Sergey Stepanov who then worked for “New Region,” I proposed this for the first time: the South-East should definitely be called Novorossiya, and its flag should be made out of St. Andrew’s. Stepanov, a native of Sevastopol, liked the idea very much. 

In November 2013 the Euroamidan began. I argued with the Donetsk political scientist who, along with me and Vasiliev was also the creator of the Novorossiya flag, on Facebook over an Anti-Maidan protest. The political scientist suggested that we talk about the South-East of Ukraine. I replied: “not in this case.” There would be no Ukraine on this territory. Only Novorossiya. We stressed that the South-East is an historically Russian territory. The political scientist and I had long disagreed. But, in the end, I persuaded him.

He also proposed a “South-East Ukraine” emblem crossed with an anchor and hammer. “Not in this case,” I said again, and I began to insist that we should approve the double-headed eagle as the emblem along with the name Novorossiya. He had also long disagreed with this because, in his words, it gave up the “Russian spirit.” But, in the end, I once again talked him out of it. 

He then sent “reference terms” to his good friend in Donetsk, a certain Pavel Gubarev, who I did not personally know at the time, but who I friended on Facebook during the Euromaidan. As a result, as the above-mentioned Donetsk political scientist reported to me, the wife of this Gubarev, Katya, painted the present coat of arms of Novorossiya with a double-headed eagle against a background with a crossed anchor and a hammer. 

In those days, the flag of Novorssiya appeared. I imagined that it would have a blue St. Andrew’s cross framed with red lines against a white background. Such was the advanced flag of the Russian navy. I though it was clear why.

But the Donetsk political scientist and Alexander Vasiliev suggested to make a red, instead of a white background, on the Novorossiya flag. It was red that was the color of Rus. So, of course, it was beautiful.

The blue cross should have been framed by white stripes. It turned out that the colors of the Novorossiya flag were identical to the colors of the Russian tricolor and the colors of the Russian Spring.

And on December 4, 2013, I took the initiative “on behalf of the public” and appealed: “everyone who doesn’t accept the Euromaidan should hang the flag of Novorossiya on their Facebook profiles.”

The people took the initiative.

I remember that someone from among the Euromaidanites started to threaten us, saying that he would declare us to the SBU and that we would go to jail for separatism.

But Evgeny Leshan, a former communist and member of the Verkhovna Rada from Sevastopol who stood on the side of Ukraine, laughed and said: “Why the SBU? Leave this ‘little alternative’ alone.”

In his opinion, we with our Novorossiya flag were akin to some Tolkienists, frivolous, marginal, and unworthy of the attention of law enforcement.

But six months later, this “little alternative” was flying on the the tanks of militiamen who smashed the Ukrainian army and punitive battalions in Donbass. 

The most important popularizers of the Novorossiya flag during the war were, on the one hand, Pavel Gubarev (without him, it would not have assumed such popularity in Donetsk and among the militia) and, on the other hand, the administration of the president of Russia. 

I will speak on the role of the administration of the Russian president some other time.

And so, together with Alexander Vasiliev we suggested that all vatniks and colorados consider December 4th to be the day of the flag of Novorossiya.

To all of those who agree with this, please accept my congratulations on the second anniversary. 

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