The first official flag of the Soviet Union was adopted in December of 1922 at the First Congress of Soviets of the USSR. It was agreed that the red banner was transformed from the symbol of the Party to the symbol of a state, and around that flag gathered the peoples of the soviet republics to unite into one state - the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics'. On 30 December 1922 the Congress adopted a Declaration and Agreement on the establishment of the USSR. Article 22 of the Agreement states: 'the USSR has a flag, coat of arms and a state seal.'
The description of the first flag was given in the Constitution, accepted in the second session of the Executive Committee (CIK) of the USSR on 6 July 1923. The text of article 71 states: 'The state flag of the Union of SSR consists of a red or scarlet field with states coat of arms'. It was ordered from with the unusual 4 to 1 ratio in proportion and consisted of a red flag with the state coat of arms in the center. However, such a flag was never mass produced. This flag was the official flag for four months, and was replaced as the official flag by the more familiar "hammer and sickle" design during the third session of the CIK of the USSR on 12 November 1923.
In the third session of the CIK of the USSR on 12 November 1923, the description of Soviet flag in the Constitution was changed, and article 71 was edited to be: 'The state flag of the Union of SSR consists of a red or scarlet field, and in the canton a golden sickle and hammer, and a red five-pointed star bordered in gold above them. The ratio of width to length is 1:2.'
The newly adopted official flag of the Soviet Union consisted of a plain red flag, with a hammer crossed with a sickle and a red star in the upper hoist. The hammer symbolized the nation's industrial workers, while the sickle symbolized the nation's agricultural workers. The red star represented the rule of the Communist Party. The back side of the flag was red, without symbols.
On April 15, 1996 Boris Yeltsin signed a presidential decree giving the Soviet flag (called the Victory Banner, after the banner that was raised above the Reichstag on May 1, 1945) status similar to that of the national flag. The difference is that the hammer and sickle has been removed from the flag. On certain holidays, the Victory Banner is flown along with the Russian flag. Under President Putin, the Victory Banner was adopted as the official flag of the Russian Army.