Topic: Imperial Russia
In Russia, August 22 marks National Flag Day, established on the basis of the Russian Presidential Decree of August 20th 1994 “On the National Flag Day of the Russian Federation”, Voice of Russia reports. The Russian tricolour flag came into existence more than 300 years ago, in the late 17th century and the early 18th century, when Russia began to emerge as a powerful state. The white-blue-red flag was for the first time hoisted aboard Russia’s first warship Oryol, or Eagle, during the reign of Peter the Great’s father, Tsar Alexei.
It was Peter the Great who officially adopted the tricolour flag. He signed a decree on January 20th 1705, whereby the white-blue-red flag should be hoisted aboard all kinds of merchant ships. He himself drew the model and determined the sequence of horizontal stripes. The flag was first used by the Russian Navy. It was basically the Navy that flew these colours all the way until the 19th century.
The use of the Russian white-blue-red flag on land stems from geographical discoveries by Russian seafarers.
Until the 19th century, Russian sailors normally erected a memorial cross on the seashore of a newly discovered land to show that it was now a part of Russia. But a new tradition emerged in 1806, when a Russian expedition explored the coastal area of Southern Sakhalin and hoisted two flags at a time, namely St. Andrew’s flag to mark the service of the Navy, and the national white-blue-red flag, to show that the area is Russia’s possession. The white-blue-red flag was not officially adopted as Russia’s National Flag until the eve of Nicholas II’s coronation in 1896.
Each of the three colours of the National Flag has its own specific meaning. Red means the Great Power statehood, blue is the colour of Virgin Mary, who protects Russia, while white is the colour of freedom and independence.
On August 22, 1991, an extraordinary session of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic resolved that the tricolor flag should be seen as the official national flag of Russia. On December 11, 1993 the Russian President signed the bill on the new state flag into law.
© Russkiy Mir. 22 August, 2013