The ribbon of Saint George was definitively associated in Russia with the deed against Nazism and began to be displayed in the form of a bow in the festive decoration of the streets.
The bicolor ribbon of Saint George (black, sometimes gray, and orange stripes) emerged in 1806 in Czarist Russia as a support for the medal or cross of the same name. Later, Russian military banners with the same colors appeared. And, already in Soviet times, starting in the fall of 1941, after the Nazi invasion of the USSR, the Navy introduced the Saint George ribbon as a badge for some units and even as an ornament on sailors’ caps.
As of 1943, this bicolor band began to be used also in decorations for merits in the war against Nazi Germany and, finally, “for the victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War”, a name with which in the Soviet Union and Russia is currently experiencing World War II. It also became an ornament in all degrees of the Order of Glory in Combat for “the taking of Berlin” and, later, for some anniversaries of the Victory.
In this way, the ribbon of Saint George was definitively associated with the deed against Nazism and began to be exhibited in the form of a bow in the festive decoration of the streets and as a badge pinned to the jackets and dresses of those attending the parade in the Plaza Roja or the numerous events that are usually organized on the occasion of the event.
But this black and orange strip, called a “beetle”, was also used as a symbol by those who led the separatist uprising in March and April 2014 in Crimea and Donbass, thus causing a schism between those who always celebrated the celebration of the defeat of the German Nazis and those who now support the annexation of Crimea and the secession of the two self-proclaimed “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Lugansk. Hence, the Russian opposition considers it “controversial”. It is difficult to know if those who wear it intend to remember the Soviets who fell during World War II or do so to support the Donbass rebels.
Since 2014, President Vladimir Putin has imposed the Saint George ribbon as the main form of demonstration of patriotism and, every May 9, they are distributed free of charge everywhere. They are even placed in vehicles, in the antennas, in the interior mirror of the living room or in the door handles. It can also be found on all kinds of packaging or painted on public transport buses. Not wearing it can be perceived as an act of dissidence.
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