Russian State Flag
The existing three-color Russian national flag was adopted by the Order of President Boris Yeltsin of December 11, 1993, replacing it's Soviet-time red predecessor. According to the Constitution, "The national flag of the Russian Federation consists of three equal horizontal stripes - white, blue and red."
This is the third time this three-color flag becomes the national symbol. The first to use it was Peter the Great, who on January 20, 1705 ordered to hoist this flag as a trade one on all Russian ships on Moscow, Volga and Dvina rivers. In those times the lower red stripe symbolized the Earth, the blue stripe - the sky, and the upper white stripe meant the world of God. At the same time, according to the Russian tradition, white color meant nobility, blue - honesty, red - courage and love.
But it still had to come through a tough competition with a black-yellow-white Emperor's banner, which was proclaimed the Russian national flag by the order of Alexander II, issued on June 11, 1858. For 25 years the red-blue-white flag was used, as in the XVIII-th century, only as a trade streamer. But after Alexander II was killed, the new Emperor, Alexander III, reconsidered the matter. Before the Coronation ceremony the Interior Minister, Count Tolstoy, produced to the Emperor both flags, and Alexander chose the red-blue-white one. So, this banner regained the status of the national flag and preserved it till the October Revolution of 1917.
After the Revolution it was replaced by the Soviet Red Banner. Russian Federation, as the part of the USSR, got it's own flag, which was, however, very much alike - red with a thin blue vertical stripe, and gold star, hammer and sickle in the upper left corner. Only 76 years later the old three color flag became again the national flag of the Russian Federation.
Later, in the XIX-th century, the three stripes on the flag were thought to embody the commonwealth of three Slavonic nations - Russian, Ukranian and Belorussian. Beginning from the middle of the century the three-color flag gradually acquire functions of the national symbol. In 1856 during the Paris Congress, while the peace treaty about the end of the Crimea war was being negotiated, the red-blue-white banner was used as the national flag of the Russian Empire.