State flag of the Russian Federation
The white-blue-red flag with three equal horizontal stripes was approved by Peter the Great, who on January 20, 1705 ordered to hoist it on all Russian trade vessels sailing on Moskva, Volga and Dvina rivers.
There are several explanations of the origin of the three Russian colors. Many point out their likeness to the Dutch tricolor; others remember the white, blue and red as the colors most preferred in Russian folk clothes. The flag may also be the offspring of the red, white and blue ensign which Tsar Alexis, Peter the Great’s father, designed for his favorite ship the man-of-war “Orel” (Eagle), in the late 1660s.
The arrangement of the stripes has several interpretations. At the time of Peter the Great it coincided with a cosmogony concept: the earthly world of flesh spreading under the sky, above which are the mystical Heavens. The white, blue and red, regarded from top to bottom, also represented the three cardinal virtues of Faith, Hope and Love. At the same time, according to the Russian tradition, white color meant nobility, blue – honesty, red – courage and love.
From the middle of the XIX century the three-color flag gradually acquired the functions of the national symbol. Thus, in 1856, during the Paris Congress, while the peace treaty to end the Crimea war was being negotiated, the white-blue-red banner was used as the national flag of the Russian Empire. At that time the tricolor was meant to symbolize the unity of the three East Slavonic nations — Russian, Ukrainian and Byelorussian.
However, on June 11, 1858 Alexander II issued an order proclaiming a black-yellow-white banner to be the Russian national flag.
The matter was reconsidered by Alexander III, who in 1883 ordered, that “exclusively the Russian flag is to be used on ceremonial occasions”. And in 1896, on the eve of the coronation of the last Russian Emperor Nikolai II the white-blue-red banner gained an official status of the state flag. The white stripe was meant to symbolize freedom and independence, sky-blue was the color of Holy Mother that protected Russia, and the red color was thought to be a symbol of power and sovereignty.
After the October Revolution of 1917 the Soviet Red Banner replaced the Russian flag. The Russian ederation, as part of the USSR, had its own flag, similar to the Soviet flag – red with a thin blue vertical stripe, and a gold star, hammer and sickle in the upper left corner.
76 years later the old three-color flag returned as the national flag of the Russian Federation. At first it was adopted by the Presidential Decree of December 11, 1993. Later the national flag was officially approved by the Federal Law of December 25, 2000.
State emblem of the Russian Federation
As the state emblem a two-headed eagle first appeared in Russia in the XV century (at that time - the Kingdom of Moscovia). It came from Byzantium with Sophia Paleolog, the niece of Constantine XI, the last Byzantine Emperor, who became the wife of Ivan III, the Grand Duke of Moscow.
Going through some changes the two-headed eagle remained the national emblem of the Russian State for more than four hundred years. After the October Revolution of 1917 it was replaced by the emblem of Soviet Russia consisting of a hammer-and-sickle against the red background surrounded with sunrays and framed in golden spikes of wheat, and the inscriptions “Soviet Russia” and “Proletarians of All Countries, Unite!”.
The two-headed eagle regained its status of the national emblem in accordance with the Presidential Decree of November 30, 1993. It was officially adopted by the Federal Law of December 25, 2000.
There are different interpretations of this symbol. The most common version says that two heads of the eagle symbolize two parts of the world (Europe and Asia) on which Russia is situated, and their equal importance for the country.
The sceptre (originally – mace, a striking weapon) symbolizes defense of sovereignty.
The orb (the sphere) is a symbol of unity, integrity of the state.
The red (purple) color has traditionally been the Emperor’s color, the gold color symbolized eternity.
The three crowns (the third crown appeared on the emblem in 1625) originally were thought to symbolize the three great khanates conquered by Russia – the Kazan, Astrakhan and Siberian. Then they were interpreted as a symbol of the Holy Trinity and later – as the unity of three nations – Russian, Ukrainian and Byelorussian.
The shield with a knight portrayed on the eagle’s chest is the ancient emblem of Moscow. Since 1730, the knight has been called Saint George, Bearer of Victory, Striking the Serpent, symbolizing the fight of Good against Evil. At the same time this symbol points out that Moscow is the heart of Russia.
The national anthem of the Russian Federation
Russia is our sacred power,
Russia is our beloved country.
A mighty will, a great glory
Are yours forever for all time!
Chorus: Be glorious, our free Motherland,
Ancient union of brotherly peoples,
Ancestor given wisdom of the people!
Be glorious, country!
We are proud of you!
From the southern seas to the polar region
Lie our forests and our fields.
You are one in the world!
You are one of a kind,
Native land protected by God!
Wide spaces for dreams and for lives
Are open to us by the coming years.
Our faith in our Motherland gives us strength.
So it was, so it is, and so it will always be!