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Russians Mark 'Day Of Russia' With Mixed Feelings

Sergei Baburin says the day should be marked as the "day of cheated citizens."

Sergei Baburin says the day should be marked as the "day of cheated citizens."

MOSCOW -- Russians are marking the Day of Russia with mixed feelings, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

June 12 has been commemorated as the Day of Russia since 2002, but it symbolizes both the rebirth of Russia and the demise of the Soviet Union, which many Russians still regret.

From 1990-2001 it was known as the Day of Russia's Sovereignty, as Moscow declared its sovereignty on June 12, 1990, one year before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Former Russian Duma Deputy Speaker Sergei Baburin says that the day should be marked as the "day of unhappiness" because it was the beginning of the breakup of the Soviet Union, something he calls a tragic event.

Baburin says in the future Russia will mark the day as the "day of cheated citizens."

But a member of the opposition Yabloko party's political council, professor Viktor Sheynis, says that Russia's sovereignty declaration and similar declarations by other Soviet republics in 1990 led to the USSR's collapse, which he says was a positive thing.

Sheynis adds that the declaration was used by Boris Yeltsin in his political struggle with the main Soviet leadership and gave Russia an opportunity to become a truly democratic state, which he says it never took advantage of.

He says Russian citizens should commemorate the sovereignty declaration each June 12 as the "document of unfulfilled opportunities."