Flag of Russia

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Russian Federation
Flag of Russia.svg
Name Триколор
The Demon
Use Civil and state flag, civil and state ensign
Proportion 2:3
Adopted 11 December 1993 (originally de jure from 11 May (29 April O.S.) 1696,[1] de facto since around 1700 for vessels and 1883 for land use)
Design Rectangular tricolor with three equal-size horizontal bands: the upper one is white, the middle blue, and the lower red.[2]
Naval Ensign of Russia.svg
Variant flag of Russian Federation
Name Андреевский флаг
Andreyevsky flag
St. Andrew Flag
Use Naval ensign
Adopted 1992[3] (originally adopted in 1720[4])
Design White with a blue saltire.
Flag of Tsar of Russia (1693)
The "coat of arms flag", erroneously called "Romanov dynastic flag": the official national flag of the Russian Empire from 1858 to 1883. The flag is currently being used by Russian Nationalists and Monarchists
Flag of the Russian Empire "for private use" (1914–1917)
Flag of the Russian SFSR (1918-1937)
Flag of the USSR (1923-1955)
Flag of the USSR (1955-1980)
Flag of the USSR (1977-1991)
Flag of the Russian SFSR (1937-1954)
Flag of the Russian SFSR (1954-1991)
Flag of Russia (1991-1993),
Proportion 1:2

The flag of the Russian Federation is a tricolor flag consisting of three equal horizontal fields; white on the top, blue in the middle and red on the bottom.

The flag was first used as an ensign for Russian merchant ships and only became official in 1696. 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 tricolor 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, the choice of the colours may originate from the flag of the Netherlands[5] 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 czar 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 colors was affected by the Dutch flag.

A different account traces the origin of the Russian flag to czar Peter the Great's visits to Arkhangelsk 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.[6] Peter decided to model Russia's naval flag after this banner by changing the sequence of colors. It eventually became the flag of the Russian empire.[7]

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 czar 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.[8]

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.

Two other Slavic countries, Slovakia and Slovenia, have flags similar to the Russian one, but with added coats-of-arms for differentiation.

Meaning and origin of the colors[edit]

There is no official meaning assigned to the colors of the flag.[9] Many Russians associate white with nobility, blue with honesty, and red with courage or love.[10]

Variant versions[edit]

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 tricolor 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 tricolor 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 tricolor was associated both in Soviet Russia as well as the Russian White emigre communities as symbolizing a traditional tsarist Orthodox Russia. This flag as well as the Naval Ensign of the Imperial Russian Navy was used by anti-Communist Russian troops 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. In the Soviet Union, this flag was used in films set in the pre-Revolutionary period and was seen as an historical flag, especially after the 1940s.

This flag (rather than the black-yellow-white color combination) was re-adopted by Russia on 22 August 1991. The re-adoption date is celebrated yearly as the national flag day.[citation needed]

The president of Russia uses a Presidential Standard (Russian: Штандарт Президента), which is officially defined as the tricolor with the Coat of Arms (at this case the two-headed eagle is depicted without the shield) in the middle.

National Flag Day[edit]

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.

Naval ensign[edit]

St. Andrew's flag (Russian: Андреевский флаг, Andreyevskiy flag) has a white background with two blue diagonal bands, forming a saltire cross associated with St. Andrew. The ratio of the flag's width to its length is 2:3, the width of the blue band is 110 the length of the flag.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Высочайшее повеление о признании во всех случаях бело-сине-красного флага национальным
  2. ^ President’s Order No. 2126 of 11 December 1993.
  3. ^ УКАЗ ПРЕЗИДЕНТА РОССИЙСКОЙ ФЕДЕРАЦИИ от 21 июля 1992 г. № 798 «О военно-морских флагах и вымпелах Российской Федерации»
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ Flag T.H. Eriksen & R. Jenkins, Nation and Symbolism in Europe and America. Abingdon, 2007, p. 23
  6. ^ Robert K. Massie, Peter the Great, 160 (Modern Library Edition 2012)
  7. ^ Robert Massie, Peter the Great (New York: Ballantine Books), 1980
  8. ^ Russian flags at Flags of the World
  9. ^ Nee, Patrick W. Key Facts on Russia. 
  10. ^ Mis, Melody S. (2004). How to Draw Russia's Sights and Symbols. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 16. 

External links[edit]