Russian Federation

Presentation of Russia

Full name: Russian Federation
Location: Eurasia
Status: Independent state since 26 December 1991. Member of the United Nations (Permanent Security Council member)
Notes: The world’s largest state, Russia was the dominant member of the USSR, which many people saw as the modern inheritor of the expansionist policies of the Tsars. With the collapse of the USSR, Russia inherited the Soviet Union’s permanent seat on the UN Security Council, but also much of the debt of the former USSR. Russia is a federated state with, in theory, widespread devolution to its regions. Unresolved tensions exist between the central government and many of these regions.

Description of the Flag

Russian national flags normally used in Russia range from the lightest to the darkest shade (like from argentine blue to british blue), even if in russian light blue is considered a separate color. There are for sure official regulations about the precise shade to be used in national flags used by the government, presidency, armed forces, etc. — but until now I could not find them. All laws state simply "blue" ("sinii~").

Flag Day

National Holiday "Day of State Flag" in Russia is 21 of august. This holiday was introduced with a decree of president B. Eltsin on 20 of august 1994. In 21.8.1991 the national tricolour was firstly raised upon the White House (the building of the Government of Russia). This flag deputies took from the study of deputy minister V.Yaroshenko. 22.8.1991 the Presidium of Supreme Soviet (parliament) adopted the decision about official acknowledgement of the tricolour. There were no “flag days” in Russian Empire, USSR, RSFSR or RF before 1994.

About different ratio

The right official ratio is 2:3. It was been changed by Presidential decree No 2126 (11 december 1993). In 1991 when Russian tricolor was officially adopted one had 1:2 ratio.

The flag of the Russian Federation was changed from 1:2 to 2:3 in late 1993. But that raises another question, namely: Why were the proportions of the Russian flag changed?

Perhaps to return to the pre-soviet ratio and/or negate the 1:2 ratio, typical of soviet flags... And why wasn’t it made 2:3 right in 1991? Because the soviet heritage was either consciously conserved (as in "new russia = soviet ratio + tzarist colors"...), or noboy noticed/care about it then...

Ratio was changed in 1993 from 1:2 to 2:3 because russian flag before 1917 always was 2:3. It is a “historical” ratio. Only soviet flags had ratio 1:2.

About different name of blue

In official text (1991-1993): white-azure-scarlet really the flag was, is and shall be white-blue-red. Authors of flag-decision of 1991 were not vexillologists. They didn’t knew vexillological terminology. They considered that "white", "blue" and "red" are very “ordinary” words and they decided to use more “refined” words: "azure" and "scarlet". (For example, in heraldry, “ordinary” words are not used. Instead heraldists say "gules", "azure", "vert" etc instead of "red", "blue" and "green"...) In 1993 this terminological vagueness was corrected.

This means that real flags had no difference in color shade, only the words used on the law were different. The 1991-1993 shade of blue was neither darker nor lighter.

Origin of the Flag

Although it is mentioned in a lot of (flag)books, it is probably just a myth that the Russian tricolour is derived from the Dutch one during Tsar Peter’s (incognito) visit to the Netherlands in 1697. One of the worlds first flagbooks, compiled by Carel Allard (from Amsterdam) in 1695 [ala95], shows three Russian flags:

More correctly it should be said that the shape of the Dutch flag influenced the Russian one, while the colors were “traditional”. It is to remember that the Dutch ensign, created 1572, was the first marittime flag in the shape of three horizontal stripes, and since then, it got great popularity. We could say that white, blue and red flags were in used in Russia from about 1667, mainly in the quartered form with a blue cross, while from 1697, after the visit of Peter the Great to Netherlands, the triband design became the preferred one. (Sources: [zig94], [sto74] and [fow69].)

Originally the civil ensign, the tricolour was officially recognized for use on land on 7 May 1883. Under the Bolsheviks, the flag was suppressed. It began to re-surface in 1990, and was officially adopted as the state flag on 21 August 1991, three days after the hardline attempted coup against (USSR) President Gorbac^e"v. A day later, Russian President Boris Elcin waved the flag from on top of a tank as the coup collapsed. An enormous white-blue-red cloth was paraded through the streets of Moscow and the flag was raised over the building of the Russian Supreme Soviet. On 25 December, it was also hoisted over the Kremlin. The next day, 26 December 1991, the formal legal termination of the USSR and its symbols took place.

Smith [smi75] says that the plain white-blue-red tricolor had been the civil ensign since 1799 and an “alternate civil flag” since 1883 — this owing to the unpopularity of the black-orange-white flag. However, the black-orange-red was not officially abolished, so that Russia had two civil flags from 1883 to 1914.

The white-blue-red is based on the coat of arms of the duchy of Moscow, which is red with Saint George, wearing white armor and a blue cape, riding a white horse, holding a blue shield, defeating the dragon.

The rider is said to be St. George from 1730. The dominant colors are in effect red, blue and white. The white-blue-red flag was used till the fall of Kerenski’s government, in November 1917. The same happened to the two-headed eagle, without the imperial crown.

Supposed color meanings

I seem to recall that the current Russian flag has similar meanings, the white for the White Russians, the blue for the Ukrainians and the red for the Russians of what is now Russia.

The colours represent the following:

On the flag, the Czar is above the people and below god.
Alex Shifrin, 11 Jan 2000

Flag mourning

Now in Russia in mourning the flags flying on half-staff, or two black ribbons added to the hoist.
Victor Lomantsov, 24 Oct 2000

Flag relate national anthem

The symbols [flag and coat of arms] are given prominent mention in the words for the revived anthem — the re-established Soviet tune, with new words by the same poet who composed the original nearly 60 years ago. Russia has been without an official anthem since 1991, when the unbreakable union broke up. An arcane tune without lyrics has been used as a stand-in Putin told a new advisory State Council grouping Russia’s regional leaders to decide whether to resurrect the catchy Soviet tune, write words for the current one or compose a new anthem altogether. The source said the Kremlin would send a bill to parliament next week proposing to keep intact the music composed by Alexander Alexandrov in 1943 and personally approved by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. It will be accompanied by new verses by 87-year-old Sergei Mikhalkov, a beloved children’s poet who wrote the original words in 1943. The Kremlin source quoted the opening lines of the verses Mikhalkov had written for the old tune, making it clear Putin had made up his mind.
Its mighty wings spread above us
The Russian eagle is hovering high
The Fatherland’s tricolor symbol
Is leading Russia’s peoples to victory