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The BBC's Caroline Wyatt in Moscow
"Few like or even know the current tune"
 real 56k

Listen to
Glinka's Patriotic Song
 real 28k

Listen to
the Soviet national anthem 1943-91
 real 28k

Vladimir Mikyaev, Russian political analyst
"It is about what kind of new Russia Putin is trying to build"
 real 28k

Thursday, 7 December, 2000, 17:23 GMT
Yeltsin attacks Putin over anthem
Putin meeting Yavlinsky
Putin has been consulting critics about the change
The former Russian president, Boris Yeltsin, has strongly criticised the present head of state, Vladimir Putin, for supporting the reintroduction of the Soviet-era national anthem.


My only association with the old anthem is party congresses and conferences

Former President Boris Yeltsin
Mr Yeltsin's comments are said to be the first public criticism of the man he promoted to be his successor.

Mr Putin is in favour of scrapping the current wordless anthem and using the old Soviet tune, but with new words.

Parliament is expected to endorse the new plan on Friday, after a long-running national debate which was reignited by complaints from the top Russian football team.

But what about the tune?

Mr Putin has won backing from various quarters, including the Orthodox church, but opponents have called it a big mistake.

President Putin and ex-President Yeltsin
Yeltsin (right) and his chosen successor
They say that restoring the old anthem would revive memories of totalitarian rule and political repression.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Russia ditched the anthem - with its references to the glorious deeds of Lenin and Stalin - and replaced it with Patriotic Song by the 19th-century Russian composer Mikhail Glinka.

But the lack of words to the Glinka tune provoked complaints last summer from the Spartak Moscow football team that it had nothing suitable to belt out before matches.


That attitude deserves attention and respect, as does the attitude of any citizen of Russa, the ex-president is no exception

President Vladimir Putin
The old Soviet anthem, by contrast, is a stirring, singable melody.

It was written during the dark days of World War II, as Red Army troops began to turn the tables on the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front.

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

Others associate it with Soviet-era sports victories and other achievements.

Putin unmoved

But ex-president Yeltsin disagreed.

"My only association with the old anthem is party congresses and conferences that consolidated the power of the party's bureaucrats," he said.


The president of a country should not blindly follow the mood of the people

Boris Yeltsin
Mr Yeltsin told the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper that he was "categorically" against its revival, despite opinion polls showing that many Russians favoured this.

"The president of a country should not blindly follow the mood of the people," he said. "On the contrary, it is up to him to actively influence it".

However a politician who visited Mr Putin on Thursday said he had not been influenced by Mr Yeltsin's words, although he had paid attention to them.

He quoted Mr Putin as saying: "That attitude deserves attention and respect, as does the attitude of any citizen of Russa, the ex-president is no exception,".

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See also:

04 Dec 00 | Europe
Soviet anthem set for comeback
01 Dec 00 | Media reports
Anthems out of tune with people
23 Jul 00 | Europe
Russians rule anthem offside
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