This is very by-the-by (especially for a blog about BBC bias), but I learned today that what we hear being sung as the national anthem of Putin's Russia - namely the old national anthem of the Soviet Union - has very different words these days, as might (perhaps) be expected.
In its final version the lyrics of the old Soviet Union read:
An unbreakable union of free republics,
The Great Russia has welded forever to stand!
Long live the creation of the will of the people,
The united, mighty Soviet Union!
Be glorious, our free motherland,
A reliable stronghold of peoples' friendship!
The Party of Lenin, the strength of the people,
Leads us to the triumph of Communism!
Through tempests the sun of freedom shone to us,
And the great Lenin illuminated our path,
To a just cause he raised up the peoples,
To labour and heroic deeds he inspired us!
In the victory of the immortal ideas of Communism
We see the future of our country,
And to the Red Banner of our glorious Motherland
We shall always be selflessly true!
Whereas in President Putin's Russia, the lyrics are of a very different hue:
Russia – our sacred homeland,
Russia – our beloved country.
A mighty will, great glory –
These are your heritage for all time!
Be glorious, our free Motherland,
Age-old union of fraternal peoples,
Ancestor-given wisdom of the people!
Be glorious, our country! We are proud of you!
From the southern seas to the polar lands
Spread are our forests and fields.
You are unique in the world, one of a kind –
This native land protected by God!
Wide spaces for dreams and for livingHow times have changed! Out goes Lenin, in comes God.
Are opened for us by the coming years
Our loyalty to the Motherland gives us strength.
Thus it was, thus it is and thus it always will be!
It remains a great tune in both versions though (composed by Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov) - though I've only warmed to it since the Soviet Union collapsed!
I also learned today (in the course of writing this strange post) that the following piece, which I heard many years ago and have never forgotten, was in contention to be the Soviet national anthem in competition to Alexandrov's version. It's the rousing and beautiful Novorossisjk Chimes of Shostokovich:
And what did the old anthem of Imperial Russia, Tsarist Russia, sound like? If you know Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture you'll already have a pretty good idea:
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