National Anthem of Russia

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Musical Recordings and compositions

Flag of the Russian Federation
Flag of the Russian Federation

The Hymn of the Russian Federation (Russian: Государственный гимн Российской Федерации, Gosudarstvenny Gimn Rossiyskoy Federatsii) is the national anthem of Russia.

It is an adaptation of the national anthem of the Soviet Union of 1944, with music originally composed by Alexander Alexandrov. The lyrics were revised for the anthem of the Russian Federation by Sergey Mikhalkov, who had supplied lyrics for versions of the Soviet anthem in 1943 and 1977. The revision removes any mention of Lenin's ideas and the "unbreakable union" of the Soviet state, instead focusing on a country that is vast in area and rich in resources that will be entrusted to future generations.

The hymn was adopted in late 2000 by President Vladimir Putin and replaced the The Patriotic Song, which had been the official anthem from 1990. Before and after the adoption of the new anthem, liberal groups raised concerns that the re-adoption of the Soviet anthem was returning Russia to the Soviet era.

Historic anthems

Before Molitva russkikh (The Prayer of the Russians) was chosen to be the national anthem of Imperial Russia, various church hymns and military marches were used to honour the country and the Tsar. Molitva russkikh was adopted around 1815, and used lyrics by Vasily Zhukovsky set to the music of the British anthem, " God Save the King".

In 1833, Zhukovsky was asked again to write lyrics to a musical composition by Alexei Fyodorovich Lvov called The Russian People's Prayer. It was well received by Nicholas I who chose the song, known more commonly as " God Save the Tsar", to be the next anthem. The song sounded very much like a religious hymn, and its musical style was similar to that of the other anthems used by European monarchs. "God Save the Tsar" was used until the February Revolution, when the Russian monarchy was overthrown. The tune is in several English-language hymnals with words beginning "God the Omnipotent! King who ordainest/Thunder thy clarion, lightning thy throne!" (or variants).

Upon the removal of the Tsar and his family in March 1917, the Worker’s Marseillaise, a modification of the French anthem La Marseillaise by Pyotr Lavrov, was used as an unofficial anthem by the provisional government. Written in 1875, its use as anthem was short-lived. After the provisional government had been overthrown by the Bolsheviks in the 1917 October Revolution, the anthem of international revolutionary socialism, L'Internationale (normally called in English "The Internationale"), was adopted as the new anthem. Eugène Pottier, another French national, wrote the lyrics to this song, and the music was furnished by Pierre Degeyter, a Belgian composer. Translated into Russian by Arkadiy Yakovlevich Kots in 1902, The Internationale was used as the anthem of Bolshevik Russia from 1918, and adopted by the newly-created Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1922, to be used until 1944.


The music of the national anthem, created by Alexandrov, had been used in several hymns and compositions before its use in the Russian anthem. The first time the music was used was in the Hymn of the Bolshevik Party, created in 1938. When the Comintern was dissolved in 1943 it was felt that the Internationale, which was historically intimately associated with the Comintern, should be replaced as the National Anthem of the Soviet Union. Alexandrov's music was chosen for that purpose in 1944 by the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Before Alexandrov created the Bolshevik hymn, he first used pieces of the music in the song Zhit' stalo luchshe (Life has become better).

During the 2000 anthem debate, it was discussed in the newspaper that the music Alexandrov created for the Soviet hymn was similar to Vasily Kalinnikov's 1892 overture Bylina. The supporters of the Soviet anthem used this fact in the various debates that took place in the Duma about the anthem change. There is no evidence that Alexandrov deliberately borrowed or used parts of Bylina in his composition.


Sergey Mikhalkov, who wrote the anthem lyrics
Sergey Mikhalkov, who wrote the anthem lyrics

In 1943, Mikhalkov and G. El-Registan completed the task of writing the lyrics, which were approved a year later by Joseph Stalin, the Soviet leader. It was stated that Stalin himself edited parts of the lyrics before approving the anthem . Upon the death of Stalin in 1953, the lyrics composed by Mikhalkov and El-Registan were discarded during the process of destalinization by the government and continued to be used without any official lyrics. Mikhalkov wrote a set of new lyrics in 1970, but they were not submitted to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet until 27 May 1977. The new lyrics, which replaced any mentions of Stalin, were approved on 1 September and were made official with the printing of the new Soviet Constitution in October of 1977. These lyrics were used until 1991, when the Soviet Union separated into fifteen nation-states.

From 1991 through 2000, people sent more than 6,000 proposed versions of lyrics to the committee on the national anthem. Although most of the entries used Glinka's music, some of them were set to Alexandrov's music and to other tunes. In 2000, the Kremlin and President Putin first decided that Alexandrov's music was to be preferred, then picked the lyrics written by Mikhalkov out of the contest entries, and worked closely with Mikhalkov rewriting parts of his lyrics until the final version was produced. Before the official adoption of the anthem, the Kremlin released a section of the anthem, which made a reference to the flag and arms:

Its mighty wings spread above us
The Russian eagle is hovering high
The Fatherland’s tricolor symbol
Is leading Russia’s peoples to victory

When the final changes to the lyrics were being made in December of 2000, the above section was not included. The new lyrics refer to the Russian homeland, spacious and grand, that is being entrusted to all generations by God. This is a complete change from the Soviet anthem lyrics, which speak highly of Lenin, communism, and pledge a "union of freeborn republics" will stand forever, united.

Modern adoption

Before 2000, there were efforts to refine " The Patriotic Song", the Russian anthem adopted in 1991 by then President Boris Yeltsin after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The main problem with the anthem, composed by Mikhail Glinka, was that it did not have any lyrics. Various attempts were made to compose lyrics for the anthem, including the 1990 composition of Viktor Radugin's Be glorious, Russia (Славься, Россия! ("Slavsya, Rossiya!), but none were adopted by Yeltsin.

The anthem debate picked up momentum in October of 2000 when Yeltsin's successor Vladimir Putin commented that Russian athletes were silent when the Patriotic Song was played during the gold medal ceremonies at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games. CNN also reported that players of the football club Spartak Moscow complained that the wordless anthem "affected their morale and performance". Putin pressed for the former Soviet anthem to be selected as the new Russian anthem, but strongly suggested that new lyrics were to be written. The Duma voted 371-51-1 on 8 December 2000 to adopt the Soviet anthem and the new lyrics, written by Mikhalkov. Being signed into law by President Putin on 20 December, the new anthem was first used officially on 30 December during a ceremony at the Great Kremlin Palace in Moscow.

Not everyone agreed with the adoption—Yeltsin said that Putin should not have changed the anthem merely to "follow blindly the mood of the people". The liberal political party Yabloko stated that the re-adoption of the Soviet anthem "deepened the schism in [Russian] society". The re-adoption of the Soviet anthem was supported by the Communist Party and by Putin himself. Those who opposed the Alexandrov music attempted to not only keep the Patriotic Song, but also to have the Duma vote on the Tsarist military march, Farewell of Slavianka. One of the most famous Russian dissident writers Vladimir Voinovich even wrote a parody of the anthem as a sort of his proposal for the new anthem, showing Voinovich's disagreement with frequent changing of the state symbols. Sergei Yushenkov, a member of Duma, even suggested that this proposal should be considered and voted by the members of the Russian Parliament, but his proposal was refused.


When the anthem is played on TV, the Kremlin or the Russian flag are usually depicted.
When the anthem is played on TV, the Kremlin or the Russian flag are usually depicted.

While it is the choice of the performer to execute the anthem using only music, only words or a combination of both, it must be performed using the official lyrics and music provided by law. After the performance is recorded, it can be used for any purpose, such as a radio or television broadcast. The anthem can be played during solemn or celebratory occasions, but it is required to be played at the swearing-in of the President of Russia, opening and closing sessions of the Duma and the Federation Council, and official state ceremonies. The anthem is also played on television and radio before the start and closing of programming or if the programming is continuous, the anthem is played at 2400 and 0600 hours. The anthem is also played at sporting events both in Russia and abroad, but according to the protocol of the organization that is hosting the games. When the anthem is played, all men's and women's headgear must be removed and people must face the Russian flag, if it is present. Those who are in uniform must give a military salute when the anthem plays.

According to the Russian Law on Copyright and Neighbouring Rights, state symbols are not protected by copyright. Thus, the anthem music and lyrics can be used and modified freely. Although the Russian Anthem Law suggests accountability for performing the anthem in a way that could cause offense and disrespect, no provisions in the other laws have been made yet that would define such acts and set a penalty.

On one occasion, Putin chastised the national soccer team in the summer of 2004 about the team's behaviour during the playing of the anthem. Before the start of tournament matches in the 2004 European Football Championship tournament, the team was caught on camera chewing gum during the playing of the Russian anthem. Putin, using Leonid Tyagachyov, the head of the Russian Olympic Committee as his messenger, told the team to stop chewing gum and sing the anthem. This message was delivered after the Russian team lost to Spain during the tournament.

Official lyrics

Russian Transliteration English translation

Россия — священная наша держава,
Россия — любимая наша страна.
Могучая воля, великая слава —
Твоё достоянье на все времена!

Славься, Отечество наше свободное,
Братских народов союз вековой,
Предками данная мудрость народная!
Славься, страна! Мы гордимся тобой!

От южных морей до полярного края
Раскинулись наши леса и поля.
Одна ты на свете! Одна ты такая —
Хранимая Богом родная земля!


Широкий простор для мечты и для жизни
Грядущие нам открывают года.
Нам силу даёт наша верность Отчизне.
Так было, так есть и так будет всегда!


Rossiya — svyashchennaya nasha derzhava,
Rossiya — lyubimaya nasha strana.
Moguchaya volya, velikaya slava —
Tvoyo dostoyanye na vse vremena!

Slavsya, Otechestvo nashe svobodnoye,
Bratskikh narodov soyuz vekovoy,
Predkami dannaya mudrost narodnaya!
Slavsya, strana! My gordimsya toboy!

Ot yuzhnykh morey do polyarnogo kraya
Raskinulis nashi lesa i polya.
Odna ty na svete! Odna ty takaya —
Khranimaya Bogom rodnaya zemlya!


Shirokiy prostor dlya mechty i dlya zhizni.
Gryadushchiye nam otkryvayut goda.
Nam silu dayot nasha vernost Otchizne.
Tak bylo, tak yest i tak budet vsegda!


Russia—our sacred state,
Russia—our beloved country.
A mighty will, a great glory
Are yours forever for all time!

Be glorious, our free Fatherland,
Ancient union of brotherly people,
Wisdom of the ancestors of the given people!
Be glorious, country! We are proud of you!

From the southern seas to the polar region
Lay our forests and our fields.
You are one in the world! You are one of a kind,
Native land protected by God!


Wide spaces for dreams and for living
Are open to us by the coming years.
Our faith in our Fatherland gives us strength.
So it was, so it is, and so it will always be!


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