What do Russians celebrate on June 12?

Russia Day celebrations in Volgograd

Russia Day celebrations in Volgograd

Kirill Braga/Sputnik
This day marks an official holiday, the so-called ‘Russia Day’. What does it signify?

June 12 marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of State Sovereignty of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR). This happened in 1990.

Leaving aside bureaucratic terms, it means that, on June 12, 1990, when the Soviet Union was on the verge of collapse, the RSFSR, following other republics, declared sovereignty and claimed that its laws prevailed over Soviet laws.

Boris Yeltsin in the early 1990s

In fact, this meant that Boris Yeltsin, the then leader of Russia (officially, his title was called the ‘Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR’), became a direct competitor to Mikhail Gorbachev, who remained president of the USSR.

Along with many other problems and the republics' desire for independence, this eventually led to the collapse of the USSR the very next year. This is how the Russian Federation as we know it now was born.

Russia Day on Red Square

A year later, on June 12, 1991, the RSFSR held its first presidential election, which was won by Boris Yeltsin, hence becoming the first president of Russia.

And, in 1994, Yeltsin declared June 12 a national holiday. Firstly, it was called the ‘Day of Adoption of the Declaration of State Sovereignty of the RSFSR’. But, in 2002, the official name was changed to a simpler and clearer one — ‘Russia Day’.

Russia Day installation next to St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow

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