The Orthodox cross, made up of two horizontal and one diagonal bar crossing a vertical pole, is the symbol of the Russian Orthodox Church. The upper bar represents the sign “INRI,” (“Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”) the mocking title bestowed on Christ by the Romans in the New testament account of the crucifixion.
The lower, slanted bar is simply a stylized footrest, a common design in early Christian crosses. Later folklore holds that the lower end points to hell, and the upper to heaven, representing the destinies of the two thieves crucified with Christ. The first thief, repentant, went to heaven, the second, who did not regret his sin, to hell.