Russia - Russia's New Anthem and the Negotiation of...

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Russia's New Anthem and the Negotiation of National Identity J. MARTIN DAUGHTRY / University of California, Los Angeles National anthems are often thought to embody the ideologies and collective self-images of the nations to which they are attached; anthems are, in the words of one historian, the "collective voice" of nations (Eyck 1995:xx). This view is complicated somewhat by the fact that ideologies and collective self-images are subject to the conflicting and ever- changing interpretations of groups and individuals within nations and as such are always conditional, contestable, and fluid. For this reason it is perhaps more pro-ductive to regard an anthem not as the static reflection of a monolithic ideology but rather as a polysemous text through which national identity is constantly being negotiated. Occasionally these negotiations break down; when the disparity between a nation's collective self-image (as interpreted by popular consensus or dictatorial whim) and its anthem's immanent range of meanings becomes too great, the anthem is often revised or removed. (To take an example from Russian history, no amount of creative interpretation could reconcile "God Save the Tsar" with the identity of a post-tsarist Russia, so the Provisional Government of 1917 was forced to discard it.) While this phenomenon commonly accompanies changes of regime, moments in which state symbols are changed during regimes are more rare, and as such provide a particularly productive point of entry into discourses on national identity. The much-publicized "national anthem crisis" in Russia in late 2000 was one such moment. Old Melody, New Anthem On December 25, 2000, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a controversial law entitled "On the National Anthem of the Russian Federation." For most of the preceding decade, the Russian national anthem had been "Patriotic Song," an instrumental piece written by the nineteenth-century composer Mikhail Glinka. The new law replaced this piece with the melody of its immediate predecessor, the anthem commonly known as "Unbreakable Union."' Composed by a Soviet general, with lyrics written by a children's poet and personally edited by Joseph Stalin, "Unbreakable Union" had served as the national anthem of the Soviet Union for 46 years, from the middle of World War II through the end of perestroika. Soon after the law was signed, a new set of lyrics for the anthem was proposed and swiftly ratified. By New Year's Day 2001, the old melody of the Soviet anthem had gained a new identity as "Russia, Our Holy Power," the second post-Soviet anthem of the Russian Federation.2 The movement to reinstate the Soviet anthem melody sparked a range of public reactions in Russia in the weeks leading up to and immediately following the passage of the new legislation. From the floor of the Parliament, politicians gave fiery speeches, alternately hailing and denouncing the pro-posed anthem. Newspapers published daily updates and impassioned editorials. "Itogi," a primetime TV news magazine on Russia's main independent network, devoted an entire
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This note was uploaded on 09/29/2011 for the course MUS 303M taught by Professor O'brien during the Spring '07 term at University of Texas.

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Russia - Russia's New Anthem and the Negotiation of...

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