On August 20, 1994 Russian president B. Yeltsin signed the decree: “due to restoration on August 22, 1991 the historical Russian tricolor national flag covered with glory of many generations of Russians and with a view to cultivating of respect for national symbols among the current and future generations of Russian citizens’ establish the Day of the national flag on August 22 and celebrate it annually.
For the first time white, blue and red colors were chosen for the flag in 1668 when the first Russian warship “Orel” was launched.
On January 20, 1705 Peter I issued a decree that ordered to make the white-blue-red colors on trade ships. Tsar himself drew its model and defined the order of horizontal stripes. The tricolor had been a trade and commercial flag. Along with it there had been a personal standard of the Emperor and other flags used for different arms of the service. Transformation of tricolor into the national symbol has required a long period of time.
Just in 1896, on the eve of Nicholas II coronation, the white-blue-red flag finally received the status of the only national flag of the Russian Empire. The white color symbolized freedom and independence, blue one was the color of the Mother of God who protected Russia and the red one stood for “majesty”. There also existed another interpretation of the flag colors – the commonwealth of the Belorussia, Malorussia and Great Russia.
In 1918 the red flag became the national symbol of the RSFSR, and in 1922 of the USSR.
On August 22, 1991 the extraordinary session of the Supreme Court of the RSFSR re-established the tricolor as the official symbol of Russia. Under the decree of the President of Russian Federation of December 11, 1993 the statute “Of the national flag of the Russian Federation” was approved. In August of 1994 the president signed the decree declaring August 22 the Day of the national flag of Russia. In December of 2000 the federal law “Of the national flag of the Russian Federation” that defined the usage of tricolor was accepted.
At the present the colors of the national flag do not have any official interpretation but it is believed that the white color symbolizes peace, purity, chastity, perfection; blue one symbolizes faith and fidelity, constancy; the red color is for energy, force, blood that was shed for the Fatherland.
Lit.: Антошин М. К. Государственный флаг Российской Федерации // Герб, флаг и гимн России. Изучение государственных символов Российской Федерации в школе. М., 2003. С. 39–44; Вилинбахов Г. В. Флаги России // Наука и жизнь. 1990. № 12. С. 88–91; Дегтярёв А. Я. История Российского Флага. Легенды, факты, споры. М., 2000; Пчёлов Е. В. Рождение российского флага // Государственные символы России — герб, флаг, гимн. М., 2002. С. 94—98; Сапрыков В. Н. Над Россией флаг России // Наука и жизнь. 1992. № 2. С. 65–68; Соболева Н. А. Государственные флаги России XIX — начала XX в. // Российская государственная символика. М., 2002. С. 156—167.
From the Presidential library materials: