There's One Rainbow Flag the Kremlin Hasn't Banned
Since Russia passed its ban on "gay propaganda" in June, all things rainbow have come under attack. It's affected legitimate political protest statements, but also, inadvertently, the packaging on a milk and yogurt brand and those stylish German Olympic uniforms.
Most recently under fire was an actual government-sanctioned flag (perhaps unsurprising, given the country's reputation for bizarre local banners.) But don't worry. The Kremlin's in-house flag experts have declared that the official flag of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, a region of about 175,000 in the far east of Russia, doesn't need to go.
The Jewish Autonomous Oblast flag (L) and the Gay Pride flag (R). It's all about that second blue stripe. Totally different, right?
The flag has seven horizontal stripes ("red, orange, yellow, green, sky blue, blue and violet") on a white background. The region, which was founded in the 1930s to consolidate the Soviet Union's Jewish population, has only used the flag since 1996. Flag designer Alexander Valayev told local website EAOMedia.ru that the gay pride flag uses only six stripes, a crucial difference. He explained, "The rainbow is a divine symbol, taken from the Bible. God threw the rainbow from the sky into the wilderness of the desert as a symbol of hope."
But even with this stamp of approval, the flag's days may be numbered, according to English-language news site RussiaSlam. EAOMedia ran an online poll following the controversy, 21 percent of local residents said they were "confused" by the symbol. A full 36 percent of respondents said they supported a new flag.