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The BBC's Jane Ball
"The wordless anthem has long been the target of the communist opposition"
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Soviet national anthem
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Monday, 4 December, 2000, 22:32 GMT
Soviet anthem set for comeback
Vladimir Putin
President Putin acknowledges opposition to the anthem
The Russian State Council has recommended restoring the old Soviet national anthem despite opposition from liberal politicians and the Orthodox Church.

If we accept the fact that in no way could we use the symbols of previous eras then we must admit that our mothers and fathers lived their lives in vain. I can't accept it - either with my mind or with my heart

Vladimir Putin
The advisory body's decision - backed by President Vladimir Putin - is expected to be ratified by the lower house of parliament, the Duma.

It means scrapping the current wordless anthem, a composition by the 19th-century composer Glinka.

In its place Russia would use the old Soviet tune but with new words.

The State Council also recommended reintroducing the Soviet red flag as the banner of the Russian armed forces.

But it called for the pre-Bolshevik red-blue-and-white tricolour to be retained as the national flag and the tsarist double-headed eagle as the coat-of-arms.

Popular decision

President Putin said he recognised there was opposition to the reintroduction of Soviet symbols, but insisted this was what the majority of Russians wanted.

Russian military band
The post-communist Russian anthem remains wordless
Ruling out those symbols was like saying that the older generation had lived useless and senseless lives, he added.

Recent polls show that 46% of Russians favour reinstating the Soviet anthem, which is considered less complex and easier to remember than the current Russian one.

But liberal opposition groups Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces have opposed a return to the Soviet anthem, which they describe as a "symbol of the bloody crimes of Stalinism".

Heroic tune

Many older Russians associate the anthem more with the victory over Hitler than with Communist oppression.

Russian flag and coat-of-arms
The current flag and coat-of-arms are likely to stay
The Soviet anthem was adopted after a competition in 1943 as Red Army troops began to turn the tables on the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front.

It replaced French composer Pierre Degeiter's International, which had been used since the revolution.

But it fell out of favour itself following the collapse of Soviet communism in 1991.

Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin replaced it with Glinka's tune, and reinstated pre-revolutionary symbols like the tricolour flag and double-headed eagle.

But hostility from the opposition-dominated Duma prevented Mr Yeltsin's decrees from being enshrined in law.

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See also:

23 Jul 00 | Europe
Russians rule anthem offside
09 May 00 | Europe
Putin hails Russian military
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