Flag of Russia
|Use||Civil and state flag and ensign|
|Adopted||11 December 1993 (originally de jure from 11 May (29 April O.S.) 1896, de facto since around 1700 for vessels and 1883 for land use)|
|Design||Rectangular tricolour with three equal-size horizontal bands: the upper one is white, the middle blue, and the lower red.|
|Variant flag of Russian Federation
St. Andrew Flag
|Adopted||1992 (originally adopted in 1720)|
|Design||White with a blue saltire.|
The flag was first used as an ensign for Russian merchant ships and only became official in 1896. The flag continued to be used by the Russian Provisional Government after the Tsar was toppled in the February Revolution and was not replaced until the October Revolution which established the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic - the world's first constitutionally socialist state. From that time period, a 1:2 red flag featuring the abbreviated name "RSFSR" ("РСФСР") was used, until replaced in 1954 with the universal design of the Soviet flag with a blue stripe along the mast. It was not until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 that the tricolour was brought back as the official flag of the new Russian Federation. The modern era flag underwent a proportion change in 1993 and has been official since 2000.
There was no universally accepted flag for Russia until the middle of the 17th century. The earliest mention of the flag occurs during the reign of Alexis I, in 1668, and is related to the construction of the first Russian naval ship, the frigate Oryol.
According to one source[which?], the choice of the colours may originate from the Dutch flag, and is related to the nationality of the ship's lead engineer Butler. During the construction, he faced the need for the flag, and issued a request to the Boyar Duma, to "...ask His Royal Majesty as to which (as is the custom among other nations) flag shall be raised on the ship." The official response merely indicated that, as such issue is as yet unprecedented, even though the land forces do use (apparently different) flags, the Tsar ordered that his (Butler's) opinion be sought about the matter, asking specifically as to the custom existing in his country. The Netherlands had at the time already settled on its current flag, consisting of red, white and blue stripes, which Butler duly told the Tsar.
This conversation apparently took notice, as the source proceeds to describe the materials bought "overseas" for the ship, and specifically mentions red, blue and white fabric. It is not at all certain, however, that the choice of the colours was affected by the Dutch flag.
A different account traces the origin of the Russian flag to Tsar Peter the Great's visits to Archangelsk in 1693 and 1694. Peter was keenly interested in shipbuilding in the European style, different from the barges ordinarily used in Russia at the time. In 1693, Peter had ordered a Dutch-built frigate from Amsterdam. In 1694 when it arrived, the Dutch red-white-and-blue banner flew from its stern. Peter decided to model Russia's naval flag after this banner by changing the sequence of colours. It eventually became the flag of the Russian empire.
While differing in the circumstances, the two flag origin versions agree on the Dutch flag influence. However, there are historical reasons to doubt that the flag was chosen as late as Peter's reign. One of the strongest arguments against that comes from a Dutch flag book of 1695 by Carel Allard, which is considered to be one of the world's first flag books. Printed only a year after Peter's trip to Western Europe, the book already describes three flags of a similar design noted as belonging to the either Tsar of Muscovy, or Muscovy itself. One of the three flags shown is the tricolour with a double-headed eagle bearing a shield on its breast, and wearing a golden crown over both of its heads. Another is the tricolour with a blue saltire over it and the third consists of two white (top left and bottom right) and two red (top right and bottom left) squares, with a blue cross in the middle.
The flag was adopted as a merchant flag at rivers in 1705. On 7 May 1883 it was authorized to be used on land, and it became an official National flag before the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II in 1896.
Meaning and origin of the colours 
The three colours did not come from the coat of arms of the Grand Duchy of Moscow, which depict Saint George wearing white (silver) armor, riding a white horse, wearing a blue cape and holding a blue shield, on a red field because these colors of the coat of arms are known since mid 19th century only. According to another version, these three colours were associated with the robes of the Virgin Mary, the holy protectress of Russia.
Yet another interpretation of the three colours is that the order in which they are placed reflects the Russian social system under the monarchy: white represents God, blue the Tsar and red the peasants. Another very common interpretation is the association of colours with the main parts of the Russian Empire: white representing Belarus ("White Russia"), blue Ukraine (or Malorossia, "Little Russia"), and red "Great Russia".
The Russian flag adheres to the colours of the greater ideas of pan-Slavism.
A different interpretation associates white with the bright future (where the colour itself is associated with brightness, while its placement at the top - with future); blue with clouded present, and red with bloody past.
Variant versions 
A variant of the flag was authorized for private use by Tsar Nicholas II before World War I, adding the large State eagle on a yellow field (Imperial Standard) in a canton in the top left-hand corner. This variant was never made the official state flag.
When the Bolsheviks took power in 1917, the tricolour design was discarded, and a definitive new flag of the SFSR (one of the constituent republics of the Soviet Union) was introduced in 1954 (see flag of Russian SFSR), and this remained the republic's flag until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. All of the Soviet Republics' flags were created by introducing a small, but noticeable change, to the flag of the Soviet Union. In this case, the change was an introduction of the left-hand blue band. The previous Soviet design was different, a plain red flag with different variants of the "RSFSR" abbreviation in the canton.
The tricolour was used by the anti-Communist forces during the Civil War called the White movement. It was continued to be used by White emigres in various countries as the Russian flag, as they did not see the Bolshevik government in Moscow as legitimate. The tricolour was associated both in Soviet Russia as well as the Russian White emigre communities as symbolising a traditional tsarist Orthodox Russia. This flag as well as the Naval Ensign of the Imperial Russian Navy was used by anti-Communist Russian troups under German command during the Second World War. Both flags can be seen inside a few Orthodox churches in the West established by these Russian communities.
The original flag of 1896 (rather than the black-yellow-white colour combination) was re-adopted by Russia on 22 August 1991. The readoption date is celebrated yearly as the national flag day.
The president of Russia uses a Presidential Standard (Russian: Штандарт Президента), which is officially defined as the tricolour with the Coat of Arms (at this case the two-headed eagle is depicted without the shield) in the middle.
National Flag Day 
The National Flag Day is an official holiday in Russia, established in 1994. It is celebrated on 22 August, the day of the victory over putschists in 1991, but it is not a day-off.
St. Andrew's flag (Russian: Андреевский флаг, Andreyevskiy flag) has a white background with two blue diagonal bands, forming a slanted cross, called St. Andrew's. The ratio of the flag's width to its length is 2:3, the width of the blue band is 1⁄10 the length of the flag.
The tricolor at Russian Consulate-General in Edinburgh
Football fans with a gigantic Go Russia! banner, featuring the Russian Bear on the background of the tricolor
See also 
- Coat of arms of Russia
- Russian Navy Ensign
- Flag of the Russian SFSR
- Flag of the Soviet Union
- Coat of arms of Moscow
- List of Russian flags
- Высочайшее повеление о признании во всех случаях бело-сине-красного флага национальным
- President’s Order No. 2126 of 11 December 1993.
- УКАЗ ПРЕЗИДЕНТА РОССИЙСКОЙ ФЕДЕРАЦИИ от 21 июля 1992 г. № 798 «О военно-морских флагах и вымпелах Российской Федерации»
- Оленин, Ростислав; Карманов, Владимир (2006). От первого корабля до первого устава. История морских флагов России (1669—1725 гг.) [From the first ship to first regulations. The history of Russian ensigns (1669—1725)]. С-Пб.: "Шатон". p. 146. ISBN 5-94988-018-8.
- Robert Massie, Peter the Great (New York: Ballantine Books), 1980
- Russian flags at Flags of the World
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Flags of Russia|
- Russia at Flags of the World
- Official image of the Russian flag, on the official site of the Russian President.
- Text of the constitutional law about the flag. (initial variant, without amendments)
- Text of the constitutional law about the flag. (with amendments of 2002—2010)
- Lists Russian National Flag.
- Historical Russian National Flag - Vexillographia.(Russian)
- Lists Russian Vintage National Flag.(Russian)
- National Flag and Naval Ensign in Russia Navy.(Russian)