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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

An Official Face-Lift For Moscow's Emblem

The Moscow government is soon to replace the current city emblem -- but few Muscovites are likely to notice, because it will still feature St. George slaying the mythical dragon.


There are slight modifications in the traditional centuries-old emblem: His hair is now covered by a helmet and there are some minor changes in his armor.


From the bureaucratic point of view, the main change is that the emblem is now official, according to a decree of Nov. 23, 1993. Previous versions, dating back as long as half a millennium, were all unofficial, Yury Perekalin, a spokesman for the mayor's office, said.


And that means that the St. George symbol which is incorporated in the new Russian double-headed eagle coat of arms that was unveiled with great ceremony last year to replace the Soviet hammer and sickle is no longer the correct symbol. At least, that is the view of no less than Mayor Yury Luzhkov.


Luzhkov has said the symbol does not contain a depiction of St. George, but rather some unidentified man on horseback.


Supporting his boss, Perekalin said, "I hope that historical accuracy will reign over the chaos of life and the Moscow city emblem will adorn the eagle's chest to glorify the nation's revival."


The new Moscow emblem is scheduled to make its appearance later this month on city government buildings, police cars and municipal documents and stationery.


The new version, designed by Konstantin Ivanov, a Moscow artist, is modelled after a St. George emblem that was in use in 1781, Perekalin said.


The Moscow city authorities, sacrificing Russian nationalism to historical accuracy, finally accepted St. George's national roots as a Roman soldier after centuries of traditional belief that he was Russian.


To put an end to the controversy over the identification of St. George, Perekalin said heraldic experts have decked out the new version in the full military regalia of a Roman soldier of 2,000 years ago.


Legend has it that St. George brought Christianity to Russian soil by rescuing a pagan settlement from a monstrous dragon, which God had sent to punish the people for not believing his word.


Most historians, however, believe that Christianity was brought to Russia by the Grand Duke Vladimir at the end of the 10th century.