The colors of a free Russia, of the United Nations, and the sky above the whole Earth! Russia can only be free, peaceful, and prosperous if it respects and enforces international law and inviolable human rights!
In the weeks since Putin's invasion of Ukraine, a new flag has emerged in Russian online communities and is rapidly gaining popularity. The Instagram profiles of young Russians critical of Putin are decorated with white-blue-white profile picture overlays and white-blue-white hearts in their bio. Related hashtags explode in recent days, as if to defy the Instagram ban from March 14 as ordered by Roskomnadzor (Russia's online censor).
What does the white-blue-white flag symbolize?
According to the multi-language website dedicated to flag, there are a couple of ways to answer this question.
Replacing the red stripe on Russia's current tricolor represents a shift from a bloody, militarized regime to a peaceful, free Russia that respects human rights.
The flag is inspired by the symbol of Velikiy Novgorod - a competitor to Muscovy's dominance and possibly Russia's only example of something that could be called democracy.
It resembles the white-red-white banner of the Belarusian revolution, striving for freedom from another dictator - Lukashenko. The analogous color scheme highlights the solidarity and deep connection between the struggle for a free Russia and a free Belarus.
Not mentioned on the website, but nevertheless crucial, is the similarity between the colors of the free Russia and the UN flag. Russia can only be free, peaceful, and prosperous if it respects and enforces international law and inviolable human rights. Russia's permanent seat on the UN Security Council gives it great leverage over global decisions. The recent invasion and Russia's subsequent attempts to block meaningful action in the UN has shown once more that we cannot afford national governments to be above global affairs. The immense power that Russia has due to her position in the UN should translate into an immense sense of responsibility for global affairs and for humanity and the planet as a whole. This has, unfortunately, not been the case. Not during the time of the Soviet Union, and especially not under Putin.
Nationalism is not Patriotism
We are made to believe that nothing in the world is higher than our government's decisions and that, ultimately, no interest is more important than national interest.
Putin hides like a coward behind the theater of national interest. He uses it to grab more power, justify attacking neighboring countries, destroying civil society, and silencing those he sees as "foreign agents". He creates a culture of fear and complacency, which serves no one but himself. Conjuring up supposed enemies of the state, he justifies spending more money on the military than on education and medical care combined. He presents a Russia that is cut off from the world, crippled by sanctions, and shunned by the world community as a strong, safe Russia.
In short – he destroys the country he professes to love and defend apparently so much.
But willingly destroying a nation is not patriotism, i.e., loving one's country – it is a shame. Peter Ustinov, former President of the World Federalist Movement, said that a world federation "… is not only possible, it is inevitable; and when it comes, it will appeal to patriotism in its truest, in its only, sense, the patriotism of men who love their national heritages so deeply that they wish to preserve them in safety for the common good."
We world federalists believe that human interest comes before national interest. We believe that governments need to serve their people, and that they have no right to infringe anyone's human and civil rights. We believe governments must be accountable - not only to their citizens, but also to the world community, based on inviolable human rights and democracy.
If you believe that Putin and his accomplices should be treated as a criminal and held accountable for their actions – then you are also a world federalist.
If you believe that democracy, freedom (of thought, speech, and press), justice, and transparent, corruption-free government are not "Western nonsense to weaken the state" but essential for a free Russia – then you are a world federalist.
If you believe that Russians and Ukrainians should live side-by-side peacefully, as full members of a free, democratic world – then you are a world federalist like us.
A Stronger Union for Democracy
After the horrors of World War II, our grandparents have created the United Nations to "save succeeding generations from the scourge of war". Unfortunately (especially for the people now dying in Ukraine), they did not go all the way and dared not limit the brutal power of nations. International organizations and courts have no teeth. They are powerless because our grandparents did not give them teeth. Our international system is still anarchy, where nations bully each other to get what they want – only now with the threat of nuclear weapons.
Russia, along with other powerful countries, reserve for themselves the right to do whatever they want, regardless of what harm it does to their citizens and others. This is not acceptable. But this is not a natural law: we can change it. And let us not wait for World War III.
World federalists want to go the final step: create a global democracy that can enforce world law to finally bring peace and solve global problems.
A new Russia that deserves to use a new flag must be a Russia that respects and enforces universal human rights, and places world law above her national interests. Democracy and human and civil rights are non-negotiable and must never stand back behind national interests. This is not only true for Russia, but for every country in the world.
Let us welcome this struggle for democracy and human rights and carry it forward to the global level!
You can follow the Young World Federalists on Telegram: @ywf_world