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Observing Russia Day

Marking the date that the First Congress of People's Deputies of the Russian Federation adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic on 12 June 1990, Russia Day is a national holiday that has been observed annually since 1992. It was in this year that the Supreme Soviet of Russia, which was in power at that time, proclaimed 12 June as a national holiday, naming it the Day of signing the Declaration of State Sovereignty, or Russian Independence Day. The national holiday was reaffirmed in 1994 by the Russian President's decree, and in 1998 it was declared as the Day of Russia, or Russia Day, with the new Labor Code giving its official seal to the title in 2002. Russia Day is a public holiday, with banks, public services and schools remaining closed.

Meant to be a day of unity for Russians to demonstrate national pride, the observance of Russia Day initially met with some resistance by many citizens who saw the dissolution of the Soviet Union as leading to hardship. Although back in 2006, then President Vladimir Putin declared in a public speech that Russia Day was a tribute to the choices of the Russian people in the early 1990s, the reality was that the majority of Russia’s citizens were bewildered by events at the time which brought the Soviet era to an end, seemingly without any tangible benefits to them.

Nevertheless, as the years have passed, the day has evolved into an occasion for many to reflect on economic and social achievements, as well as to pay tribute to famous Russians. Sporting track and field events are held outside the Kremlin in Moscow, and in 2010 Red Square played host to an event including music and technological effects. Some pass the day in religious activities, while others take the opportunity to highlight social and environmental issues. In a country that many feel is still finding its direction forward after its communist past, Russia Day gives citizens the opportunity to reflect on their individual roles in the country of their birth.


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