Russia celebrates the day of national flag today, 22 August. The Russian thricolour was first lifted over the House of Government the last day of putsch – 22 August, 1991. And only a year later the president of Russia Boris Yeltsin signed a decree “About the national flag of Russia”.
However, the history of tricolour began much earlier and counts already several centuries. In 1668 Navy flotilla was built in Russia. It needed an identifying sign, and Tsar Aleksey Michaelovich ordered to use white-blue-red cloth with this purpose. First it was lifted over the first Russian military ship “Oryol” (Eagle). Half the century later Peter the great issued an edict, according to which white-blue-red flag must be lifted “over all merchant ships”. He himself drew a pattern and defined the order of horizontal lines. Russia did not have any national flag up to the half of XIX century. Most of the European countries, on the contrary, already defined national colours.
Russian troops were met by white-blue-red flags in Paris in 1812. The Parisians thought the flags to be Russian national. But in Berlin Alexander I was met by black-yellow-white clothes. Gradually the combination of these colours became usual and respected in army. And white-blue-red flag remained a historic relic, often tied to the name of Peter the Great, KM.ru informs.
On 7 May Emperor Alexander III issued “an imperial command” right after his coronation. The order unambiguously interpreted the usage of Peter’s flag: “In the ceremonial cases when it is admitted to be possible to adorn the buildings with flags one should exceptionally use Russian flag, consisting of three stripes: the upper one – white, the middle – blue and the lower onу – red”. The colours were treated by the Emperor’s title: “The Ruler of The Great, White and Small Russia”: the red colour corresponded to the Russian people, the blue one – to the Ukrainians ( Small Russians) and the white colour – to the Belarusians.
Nowadays the unofficial interpretation of the Russian flag’s colours’ meanings is: the white colour means peace, pureness; the blue one – fidelity and the red one means power, blood, shed for the motherland.