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Mark MacKinnon

How Putin's supporters are turning to a banner used by Stalin

Suddenly, it’s everywhere. An orange-and-black ribbon that was intended to be Russia’s answer to the Remembrance Day poppy, but which has become a symbol of solidarity among ethnic Russians – as well as support for President Vladimir Putin.

The striped St. George ribbon could be seen on the lapels of many parliamentarians in the Russian Duma as they voted last week for the annexation of Crimea, and pinned to the jackets of pro-Moscow protesters as they clashed with pro-Kiev crowds in eastern and southern Ukraine. It hangs from the rear view mirrors of Moscow taxis and – enlarged into a flag – flies over checkpoints established by Russian-backed militiamen in Crimea.