On April 8, 1918, the historical Russian tricolor flag was replaced with the red flag which consequently became the symbol of the Soviet Union for over 70 years.
The well known Russian white, blue and red tricolored flag journeyed through a long historical path, evolving since the 17th century. Its history can be traced back to the times of Tsar Aleksey Mikhailovich Romanov, when in 1668, it was raised on the first Russian battleship named "Oryol" (Eagle). Historians believe that it was made out of white, blue, and red colors because the shipbuilders and the captain were Dutch, and therefore, the Dutchman colors were adopted. It is also believed that the emblem of Moscow inspired the colors. The emblem, which has been an integral part of the coat of arms of Russia since the 16th century, depicts in a dark red shield with Saint George wearing a blue cloak on a white horse slaying a dragon.
The official creator of the tricolor is considered to be Peter the Great. He apparently determined the color and orders of the horizontal bands himself and every color was given a meaning. White - representing freedom and independence, blue – the Virgin Mary protecting Russia, and red – great power. The flag made its next evolution in 1858. By order of Alexander II a black, yellow, and white flag was introduced to depict with the colors of the Russian Coat of Arms. Regardless, the white, blue and red flag was preferred among the nations and remained as the unofficial flag. It was officially adopted again by Nicholas II in 1896, and remained as Russia’s symbol till 1918.
It was on this day the Bolshevik party leader Yakov Sverdlov proposed to have the red army flag as Russia’s new flag and his proposal was passed unanimously. At the beginning, the plain red flag had the letters RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic) on the top left hand corner, later it was changed to the emblem of the Soviet Union with a gold hammer crossed with a gold sickle and a five-pointed red star bordered in gold in the upper canton. The symbols signified the nation’s workers and peasants while the red star represented the rule of the Communist Party. The ratio of width to length of the flag was 1:2, and this was no mere chance, as it roughly matched the spread of the USSR land area, from south to the north and the length from east to west.
Traditionally, the finials of all Soviet flags were formalized as the point of a spear with an inscribed star, hammer and sickle.
Only by the end of the 1980s did the historical tricolor of Russia become one of the symbols for a movement against the communist ideology, and was widely used during the so-called "August coup" against the Soviet government. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 the original flag was re-adopted by Russia.