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The Mari want former state symbols back

The Mari youth movement has started collecting signatures in Mari El to change the national emblem and formally reintroduce the former emblem. To date, 300 signatures have been collected.

The author for the idea of the current coat of arms and flag of The Republic of Mari El, pictured above, is the former head of state, Leonid Markelov, who is in prison for theft of state property. The coat of arms and the flag were designed by Andrey Sannikov and approved by the republic’s parliament in 2011, but were not registered by the Heraldry Committee of the Russian Federation. The Chairman of the Heraldry Committee, Georgy Vilinbakhov, explained that, according to generally accepted practice, national symbols are not changed, but only when the borders, the national structure, the name of the state or the population of the country changes.

The new flag and coat of arms also caused great discontent among the Mari population. The old flag, which was used from 2006 to 2011 by the renowned Hill Mari artist Izmail Yefimov, is still used for Mari national events. Also Mari folklore groups that visited Estonia in those years, as well as local Mari organisations, have continued to use the old flag.

Mari youth have said in the appeal: “We are going to collect signatures as long as we are heard and the azurite-white-red tricolour is waved again over our homeland. This flag is deeply rooted in the consciousness of the Mari people, it expresses the culture, the history and the future of the Republic”.

After the departure of Leonid Markelov, many socio-political organisations, as well as social activists, have called for the reintroduction of the former symbols. This is supported by the local branches of the Russian Communist Party and the Liberal Democratic Party, as well as the current Chief Heraldist of the Republic, Izmail Yefimov.