In late 2000, Russia’s new president Vladimir Putin, made creation of a new anthem for Russia a top priority, since a common complaint was not having words to their current anthem. In early December 2000, Putin presented a bill in the national asssembly to have the melody of the old anthem from the Soviet Union adopted as the new national anthem. The measure passed by a wide margin on December 8, but it was not without controversy, both at the time and since. Many (including former President Yeltsin) did not feel a change was necessary, and the use of the old Soviet anthem could be seen as rejecting post-Communist reforms. Others have expressed concerns that the melody brings back memories of the past of hardships under the Communist regime, especially the crimes that took place under Stalin (who was Soviet leader when the anthem was first introduced).

It was then needed to adopt lyrics for the anthem, as the Communist-era lyrics would be inappropriate. After reviewing thousands of entries, new lyrics by Sergei Vladimirovich Mikhalkov (the same person who wrote the lyrics to the old Soviet anthem) were adopted. The lyrics were also not without controversy as well, the main one being that the words were not well-known (perhaps due to the fact that this was the third set of words used for the melody since its introduction in 1944). Others, particularly the Communist deputies in the legislature, who were in favour of adopting Alexandrov’s melody, objected to the reference to God in the anthem.

Special thanks to: Pavel Zinovatny for some of this information, and the English translation of the lyrics.

See also: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (1944-1991).