A tricolour consisting of three equal horizontal fields, white on the top, blue in the middle and red on the bottom. Used as a commercial and civil maritime ensign from the 1690s (allegedly from 1668) on.
The flag was introduced in 1858, however it was not as popular as the white-blue-red civil ensign, which was adopted in 1883 for land use. In the 20th century there was a widespread myth (based on incorrect statements by the leading Soviet historian K. Ivanov) that Russia had changed her official flag in 1858.
This flag represented not only Russia but the entire area of the Empire (including Ukraine, Northern Kaukasus, Central Asia etc.), while the white-blue-red stood for Russia only.
This is similar to the Union Jack which represents the United Kingdom, while Scotland, England, and Wales also have flags of their own. Since the 1990s this flag is used by monarchists and some extreme right political groups.
Peter the Great's tricolour was the merchant flag (civil ensign) of Russia. As the oldest civil flag to represent Russia, it was later adopted as the national flag representing the country rather than the Tsar. However, the flags used by the Russian Army were regimental flags with the Double-Headed Eagle, the official Imperial symbol, in the centre. The Imperial Standard was the black Double-Headed Eagle displayed on a golden banner, represented the Tsar, the absolute ruler of the Russian Empire.
Russian Empire (unofficial, private use only).
A tricolour of horizontal stripes, white, blue and red, with a yellow canton with the coat of arms.