The people of the liberated territories are now filling the white, blue and red flag with new meanings and emotions.
Photo: Dmitri STESHIN
Our white, blue and red flag is only officially old, historical, approved in time immemorial by Peter the Great. Actually the flag is new, the old one is just a color image. Symbols without being filled with emotions “do not work”, they have practically no meaning, like an ornament on a tile in a bathroom. We have spent many years building our flag, filling it with facts, spilled blood, tears of pain and joy. All was. And filmed, going out and hoisting. It was a very hard road.
For the second time, the flag came in the most controversial period in our history – the coup of the State Emergency Committee, the successful suppression, the collapse of the USSR. Now you look at these events of the 21st century and understand their tragedy. And then almost everyone was happy, waiting for a new life – rich, free, joyful, and it quickly came in the form of the wild 90s, which had already become a household name. I remember that the new flag was not to the liking of both the mainstream “left” and the “right”. The communists called it “Vlasov’s rag”, and the imperials – “commercial”. And only those who were in the middle quietly fought under him in bloody conflicts that broke out somehow simultaneously along the borders of the former Soviet Empire.
It was the uprising in the Donbass that showed the amazing. For former residents of Ukraine, our tricolor flag was unconditionally a symbol of Russia. No self-digging and arguing. I remember in the summer of 2014, on the outskirts of Slavyansk, the Khimik checkpoint. They showed me the Russian flag, torn by shrapnel and the “secondary scree” of concrete blocks. The tanks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine went to the block for direct fire and began to “unroll” it. The flag was held, the tanks were driven out with rotten ATGMs (anti-tank guided missiles – ed.). These ATGMs – worked through one or every fifth, as lucky. And it took great courage to come out with such dubious weapons against armored monsters. But the guys came out and won. The wrestler, who showed me the flag, gave me a corner of the cloth to touch. It seemed to me that everything was recorded on the torn cloth, as on a magnetic tape: the rage of the damned, their crushed fear, and the delight of victory. The fighter put the flag in the inner pocket of the “hill”, to the heart of it. And for me “white-blue-red” was born again.
Summer 2022, a boy from Melitopol asked the military correspondent “KP” for a patch in the form of a flag.
Photo: Dmitri STESHIN
In the spring, during the assault on Mariupol, everyone wanted to carry the flag, in the form of stripes. They were exposed, of course, but the people understood the burden and the responsibility. The tragically deceased Vladlen Tatarsky gave me a bag with stripes in the shape of a flag, with velcro. A lot, maybe two hundred. And in the last year I gave away almost everything, two pieces remained in the glove compartment of the car, in the most extreme case.
I handed out gallons ten by ten to a subdivision of “mobiks” who occupied one of the first blocks on the outskirts of Mariupol. Local residents, adults and children, asked me for it and I gave it to them. A couple of times, when the stripes were not at hand, I took it off. The last time I gave it was a week ago, on the Zaporozhye front, in the direction of Orekhovsky. I got lost, stopped at a quarry to ask for directions, and the watchful grandfather asked: “Is there a patch with a flag?” It was the penultimate.
I, who lived for 30 years in the shadow of our Flag, continue to be amazed by the reverent attitude towards it of the peoples of the liberated territories. They are the ones who now fill this flag with new meanings and emotions.