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Belarus - Historical Flag (1995-2012)

Last modified: 2023-06-03 by zachary harden
Keywords: belarus | national ornamentation |
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(1:2) image by Mark Sensen, António Martins and Zach Harden, 31 January 2004

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Description of the Flag

From <>:
The National Flag of the Republic of Belarus is a rectangular banner, the ratio of height to length is 1:2. The upper two-thirds of the flag is red, and the lower third is green. A vertical red-on-white Belarussian decorative pattern, which occupies one-ninth of the flag's length, is placed against the flagstaff. The flag is fixed on a flagstaff painted golden with ochre. Red symbolizes Belarus' glorious past. That was the color of the victorious standards of the Belarussian regiments that defeated crusaders at Grunewald, and was the color of the battle flags of the Red Army divisions and Belarussian guerrilla detachments that liberated the country from fascist invaders and their henchmen. Green symbolizes the future. It is the color of hope, spring and revival, the color of forests and fields. The Belarussian decorative pattern symbolizes Belarus' rich cultural heritage, its spiritual continuity, and the unity of its people.
Jarig Bakker, 7 July 1999

From <>:
"Based on the decision of the May referendum (1995), the President of Belarus issued decrees .....On Approval of Regulations for National Flag of the Republic of Belarus. The National Emblem and National Flag are symbols of national sovereignty..... The National Flag of the Republic of Belarus is a rectangular color cloth consisting of two longitudinal stripes: red upper stripe and green lower stripe that are two-thirds and one-third of the flag width respectively. Close to the flagstaff there is a vertically placed red-on-white Belarusian decorative pattern which occupies one-ninth of the flag's length and the ratio of width to length is 1:2. The flag is fixed on the flagstaff painted golden with ochre. It is precisely these symbols that have been met with approval of 75.1% of people voted at a national referendum. Red color in a flag is from ancient days. That was the color of victorious standards of the Belarusian regiments that had gained victory over crusaders at Grunewald, that was the color of flags of the Red Army divisions and Belarusian guerrilla detachments that liberated the country from fascist invaders and their henchmen. Green is the color of hope, spring and revival, the color of forests and fields. Belarusian decorative pattern is a symbol of ancient culture of folk, its spiritual richness , the unity of folk singers and makers with people. The present National Emblem of the Republic of Belarus symbolizes historical adherence of the Belarusian people to constructive labor, their faith into triumph of justice and attainment of worthy place in the world community."

This is possibly a more reliable (or at least official Belarusian government) source, the Belarusian Mission to the UN Development Program. There is also an image of the flag in the site. I may be stating the obvious here, but using USSR-period sources for the current Belarusian flag is apparently a bad idea.  A private site in Belarus <> citing Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, says the current BY flag is "almost identical to the Soviet era flag" i.e. not the same.
Joe McMillan, 15 Febuary 2001

Belarus flag colour shades from Album 2000 [pay00] are:
Pantone --- CMYK
R  1795c ---   0-90-100-0
G  370c  ---  60-0-100-25
Santiago Dotor, 26 Febuary 2001

Concering [pay00] - National Flag (CSW/--- 1:2) - There are some numbers (6 and 1) set arond the flag image in Album in front that is otherwise used for indicating the construction details, but I believe that they are quite misplaced here. From information by Petr Exner, ratio of red and green stripes is 2:1, and white stripe with ornamet to striped fly part is 1:8. Also, I guess there are still many questions regarding the details fo the national ornament on this flag (and the Soviet era flag).
Željko Heimer, 11 March 2000

There is flag of Belarus at <>. It's taken from the website of Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I think this information can help get rid off all the "error" or "wrong" information on Belarus. You only can trust official stuff. There is lots of fake and wrong versions of flags in Belarus because  people who make them don't have a knowledge.
Vladimir Maksakov, 23 April 2001

The UN/Belarus site has changed.  This is the new link: <>.  It still has a picture of the BY CoA/flag,
but no explaination.  I found a picture from Yahoo News that shows the flag variant with no bars, attached to a staff in a military post.  It was there for background for Belarus soldiers to vote for the next president.  Oddly enough, attached to a staff was a final form the Soviet Union!  Strange.   The Russia/Belarus Union is still on, but still no flag.
Zachary Harden, 9 September 2001

In National flags and distinctive markings - Change Nr 1 [pay01] - BI 1.1 - National flag. - Note added: White stripe is sometimes surrounded by a red rectangle.
Ivan Sache, 8 October 2001

The ornament used during the days of Belarussia SSR is the same design being used right now, except the color of the design is white and the background is red.  The current design has the white as the background, and the red is the color of the design.  On the Belarussia SSR, there was two white stripes bordering the ornament, going vertically.  On the current design, we have no clue if they are there or not.
Images from the website of Alexander Lukashenko, the President of the Republic of Belarus, show the flag without the stripes next the ornament, yet showing a 2:3 ratio.  The flag site hosted by Graham Bartram, has the flag with the two bars next to the ornament.  His rendition of the flag is at <>.  The government rendition can be located at <>.  The flag being used at the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Games looks exactly like the design posted on the second link.
Zachary Harden, 18 Febuary 2002

The Belarussian flag on their government website is crude and inaccurate in several regards. The one on Bartram's website errs in having red vertical lines on either side of the red pattern in the "national ornament."  I don't know who manufactures this flag in a correct version. The Flag Bulletin issue giving complete details on the new 1995 flag of  Belarus is out of print.
Dr. Whitney Smith, 18 Febuary 2002

The site of Belarus Embassy in the Russian Federation (<>) talks about the national arms and flag in more detail.  This is what I can pull about the national flag: Ratio is 1:2 . Red stripe: 2:3 of length; Green stripe: 1:3 of length; Ornament: 1:9 of the flag's width. If I understand this correctly, the flag must be topped with a golden ornmament/finial.  This also has the symbolism of the flag, in Russian. It says nothing about the national hymn, which had adopted lyrics a few weeks ago.
Zachary Harden, 28 September 2002

The BY national flag is defined as the soviet era BSSR flag minus the golden hammer anc sickle, and therefore the colors are medium green, white and medium red (a.k.a scarlet, alyi~ in Russian).
The RGB BS values are, for red: RGB:255-0-0; green: RGB:0-153-0; and white: RGB:255-255-255. That said, PMS 1795 seems too dark and and PMS 370 too yellowish.
I'd be quite surprised to read an official Belarussian text saying that the current national flag has no connection whatsoever with the BSSR flag and that any similarity is coincidental. That said, and stressing the differences between vexillology and textile observation, it is (to me at least) evident that, even if the current belarussian flag is manufactored using a significantly darker cloth for the red parts, the current BY national flag has conceptually the same shade of red (and of green and of white) as the old soviet belarussian flag had.
Anto'nio Martins, 24 Febuary 2003 and 10 March 2003

Decree Number 214 (7 June 1995) states the design of the Belarus flag and mentions the colors of green, white and red.  There is no mention in this law, or in subsequent laws or decrees about the exact color shades (Pantone or CMYK) for the red and the green. It is speculated that the shade of red and green were similar to those used on the flag of Belarussian Soviet Socialist Republic, but no mention of shades were mentioned in the laws creating the BySSR flag.
However, I can say that the flag of the Republic of Belarus does nothave any bars in the national ornament.  The ornament takes up 1/9 of the length of the flag.  The 2/3 of the hoist is taken up by the red, the 1/3 is taken up by the green.  The Government of the Republic of Belarus also requires this flag to be fasten on a brown staff, attached with a golden finial (orbe shaped).  There is no design pattern or construction sheet being passed around, that I know of, to make this flag correctly.  However, Decree N. 214 does name the Belarus Government authority who has information about the flag is the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus.
The shade of green given by Album 2000 is Pantone 370C, in CMYK, it is 60-0-100-25. But António Martins said that the RGB BS for green is 0-153-0.
Belarus was not the only SSR that used green.  Lithuania was another one of them.  Lithuania also uses green on their national flag today. Lithuania and Belarus used the same shade of green when they were in the USSR.  The green Lithuania uses now is C100/M55/Y100/K0. Could it be safe to say that the shade of green for the Belarus flag is C100/M55/Y100/K0?
The shade of red also matches. Lithuania's shade of red is C25/M100/Y100/K0.  Since Belarus and Lithuania had the same colors on their Soviet era flags, both are using the same colors on the national flag (Lithuania has yellow, Belarus has white as their third color).
So, I take a guess and say this for the Belarus flag colors.
Green C100/M55/Y100/K0
Red C25/M100/Y100/K0
Zachary Harden, 28 May 2003 and 2 June 2003

Yes, they did use the same colours in their flags during the Soviet era, but Lithuania is now using the same colourscheme they used during their brief pre-Soviet independent period in 1918. Belarus also used the Pre-Soviet independence flag for a while (1991 - 1995) in which the red seemed to match the red on the Lithuanian pre-Soviet era and current flag perfectly. Still no reason to assume that this is still the case with the current flag. The current President of Belarus might, for reasons best known to himself, have chosen for a slightly darker shade of red in order to distantiate the current flag from the previous one, which he might have preceived as being to nationalistic.
Andre van de Loo, 2 June 2003

From <>:
"The National Flag of the Republic of Belarus, which is a symbol of state sovereignty of the Republic of Belarus, is a rectangular cloth consisting of two longitudinal stripes: red upper stripe and green lower stripe that are two-thirds and one-third of the flag width respectively. A vertical red-on-white Belarusian decorative pattern, which occupies one-ninth of the flag's length, is placed against the flagstaff. The flag’s ratio of width to length is 1:2. The flag is fixed on a flagstaff painted golden (ochre).
During ceremonies and other solemn events, the National Flag of the Republic of Belarus is used with a diamond-shaped top edge containing a five-point star. The star is analogous to the one depicted on the national Emblem of the Republic of Belarus. The top edges are made of yellow metal. "
Zachary Harden, 2 June 2003

The Ornament

image by Zach Harden, 31 January 2004

Latvia and Belarus being neighbouring countries seem to have much in common in the appearance of their folkloristic national costumes. I came to the following sites <> and <> which proved beyond a doubt that the pattern displayed along the hoist of the Belarus National Flag is derived from folkloristic decorations on items of clothing in the Belarus national costume. These decorations can be found on belts or waist-bands worn over the clothing, edgings on skirts and cuffs and other trimmings to give the festive costumes a bright and cheerful appearance.
Andre van de Loo, 3 March 2003

The Byelorussian ornament shown on the flag was made in 1917 by Matrena Markevich. I'm not sure but I think it is ornament for embroidered belt of national costume.
Victor Lomantsov, 3 March 2003

It should be noted that the hoist stripe is the exact opposite of the Soviet version of the flag. In my opinion, the stripe is actually Polish being an embroidery ornament. And was, among other things, used as embroidery for shirts, vests, trousers, dresses, belts, but its usage even reached house decorating, being used as differently coloured bricks. The symbol can often be seen in Belarus, as its central and western parts are the Polish Eastends (lost after the WWII), and many Poles didn't give in to the Soviet Vistula Plan (to resettle Poles to Poland's western "recovered lands"), and remained there (my great-grandparents, for example, as well as my grandmother's sister and her children). Thus, especially from Minsk region west and specifically in the Grodno, Slonim, Brest and Pinsk regions, there are very many people of Polish origin.
Marek Kaszycki, 19 May 2003

Same design, but the colors were reversed.  BySSr used white design over a red background, BY uses right now a red design on a white background.
Zach Harden, 19 May 2003