The current state flag of the Russian Federation is known as the Trikolor (Tricolor), and consists of three equal-sized horizontal bands: white, blue, and red (from top to bottom). This new banner replaced the Soviet flag for the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR), which consisted of a red background emblazoned with a vertical blue stripe on its left side, and a gold hammer, sickle, and star representing the Soviet Union. Prior to 1954, the Russian flag was a simple red background with the Cyrillic acronym for the RSFSR imprinted in the upper left-hand corner.
   Traditionally, the color choice represents the coat of arms of the Grand Duchy of Moscow, which depicted a blue-clad St. George on a white horse against a red background; the colors are sometimes interpreted as symbols of pan-Slavic unity, representing the Belarusians (white), Ukrainians (blue), and ethnic Russians (red). The flag of the Russian Federation was adopted on 22 August 1991, which is now celebrated as a national holiday; the flag had previously proved popular among anti-Soviet activists during the 1991 August Coup.
   The current white-red-blue flag was adopted in lieu of the shortlived “coat of arms” flag (1858–1883) of the Russian Empire, which consisted of three horizontal stripes, black on top, yellow-orange in the middle, and white on the bottom; however, the imperial flag— sometimes embellished with the two-headed eagle of the Romanov dynasty—is often seen at demonstrations by ultranationalists and monarchists in contemporary Russia. The Soviet flag—with its bold red background and gold hammer, sickle, and star in the upper canton (the hammer represented industrial workers, the sickle stood for the peasants, and the star symbolized the Communist Party of the Soviet Union)—is also used as a political statement, particularly by members of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and other left-wing groups. A version of the Soviet flag known as Znamia pobedy (banner of victory) was established in 2007 as the official representation of the victory in the Great Patriotic War, and is used during Victory Day celebrations on the 9th of May.
   In addition to the national flag, each federal subject of the Russian Federation has its own standard that often evokes unique geographic, historical, or ethnic characteristics of the region in question. In the case of Tatarstan and some other ethnic republics, local governments often treat their own flag as superior to that of the federal flag, often to the dismay of the Kremlin. In August 2007, a Russian submarine team planted a titanium flag on the seabed near the North Pole, sparking fears of a land grab in the Arctic Ocean basin.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.


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