Russia National Anthem: The History, Meaning, and Controversy Surrounding the Anthem of the Russian Federation

If you’ve ever watched a Russian sporting event, you’ve likely heard the Russia National Anthem played. The current version of the anthem has only been in use since 2000, but the history and controversy surrounding it go back much further. In this article, we’ll explore the history and meaning behind the Russia National Anthem, as well as the controversy that has surrounded it throughout its existence.

The History of the Russia National Anthem

The Russian national anthem has a long and complex history that spans over a century. From its origins in imperial Russia to the Soviet Union and beyond, the anthem has undergone many changes and controversies. Let’s take a closer look at the history of the Russian national anthem.

Early Anthems of Russia

The first Russian national anthem was “God Save the Tsar!”, which was written in 1833 during the reign of Nicholas I. The anthem was based on the British national anthem, “God Save the King”, and was very popular among the Russian people. It remained in use until the 1917 Revolution.

During the early Soviet period, the anthem was replaced with revolutionary songs, such as “The Internationale” and “The Worker’s Marseillaise”. However, Joseph Stalin later reintroduced “God Save the Tsar!” as the national anthem in 1944 during World War II. The Soviet Union adopted its own official anthem in 1947.

The Soviet Union’s Anthem

The Soviet Union’s national anthem was composed by Alexander Alexandrov in 1938. The lyrics were written by Sergey Mikhalkov and Gabriel El-Registan, and were revised several times over the years. The anthem praised the Soviet Union’s achievements and ideals, and was widely played at public events.

However, the anthem was also associated with the repression and brutality of the Soviet regime. Many people felt that the anthem represented the government rather than the people, and that it was used to promote communist ideology.

The 1990s: A Time of Change and Uncertainty

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia found itself in a period of political and social upheaval. The old Soviet symbols, including the national anthem, were seen as outdated and unpopular. In 1993, the Russian government held a competition to choose a new national anthem.

The winning entry was “Patrioticheskaya Pesnya” (“Patriotic Song”), composed by Mikhail Glinka. The new anthem had a more traditional and patriotic tone, but it was not without controversy. Many people felt that the lyrics were too vague and that the melody was uninspiring.

The New Anthem of the Russian Federation

In 2000, Vladimir Putin became the president of Russia and decided to hold another competition to choose a new national anthem. This time, the competition was more selective, and the finalists were chosen by a committee of experts.

The winning entry was “Gosudarstvenny Gimn Rossiyskoy Federatsii” (“State Anthem of the Russian Federation”), composed by Alexander Alexandrov and revised by Sergey Mikhalkov. The new anthem combined elements of the Soviet anthem and the Glinka composition, and had more specific and meaningful lyrics.

The Lyrics of the Russia National Anthem

The lyrics of the current Russian national anthem reflect the country’s history, culture, and values. The first verse describes Russia’s natural beauty and vastness, while the second verse celebrates the country’s achievements and its people. The chorus proclaims Russia’s strength and unity, and calls on its citizens to be proud and loyal.

The lyrics have been criticized for their focus on military strength and patriotism, and for their omission of certain historical figures and events. In particular, many people were upset that the name of Joseph Stalin was removed from the lyrics in 2002, as he was seen by some as a symbol of Soviet victory and power.

Controversy Surrounding the Russian National Anthem

The Russian national anthem has been controversial throughout its existence. Some people feel that the anthem is too focused on military strength and nationalism, and that it does not reflect the diversity and complexity of modern Russia. Others feel that the anthem is a symbol of Russian identity and pride, and that any attempts to change it are unpatriotic and disrespectful.

The anthem has also been controversial in sports events, particularly in the context of the Olympics. In 2018, the International Olympic Committee banned the Russian anthem from the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, as punishment for the country’s doping scandal.

The Importance of the Russian National Anthem Today

The Russian national anthem remains an important symbol of the country’s identity and values. It is played at official ceremonies, sporting events, and other public gatherings, and is recognized around the world as a symbol of Russia. The anthem is also an important part of the country’s diplomatic relations, as it is often played during official visits and meetings.

Despite its controversies, the Russian national anthem remains a powerful and meaningful symbol of Russia and its people.


  • What is the history of the Russian national anthem?

The current version of the Russian national anthem was adopted in 2000, but it has a complex history. The melody was composed in the 18th century by the Italian musician Giuseppe Sarti, and it was first used as the national anthem of Russia in the 19th century. The lyrics have changed several times, reflecting the political changes in Russia over the years.

  • What are the lyrics of the Russian national anthem?

The current lyrics of the Russian national anthem were written by Sergei Mikhalkov and were adopted in 2000. They express love for the country and its people, and call on Russians to work together for the common good. The full lyrics can be found online.

  • Why was the Russian national anthem changed in 2000?

The Russian national anthem was changed in 2000 following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the establishment of the Russian Federation as an independent country. The previous anthem, which had been adopted in the Soviet era, was seen as outdated and inappropriate for the new Russia.

  • What controversy has there been surrounding the Russian national anthem?

There has been controversy over the use of Soviet-era symbols in the current version of the Russian national anthem, as well as the perceived militaristic tone of the lyrics. Some have also criticized the choice of Sergei Mikhalkov, who had written the lyrics for the previous Soviet-era anthem, to write the new lyrics.

  • What occasions is the Russian national anthem played at?

The Russian national anthem is played at a variety of official occasions, including state ceremonies, sporting events, and military parades. It is also played at the beginning and end of broadcasts by Russian state media outlets.


The history and controversy surrounding the Russian national anthem reflect the country’s complex and sometimes tumultuous past. While the anthem has been criticized for its focus on military strength and nationalism, it remains an important symbol of Russia’s identity and values. Understanding the anthem and its significance is crucial for anyone seeking to understand Russia and its people.


  • “Russia’s National Anthem,” Embassy of the Russian Federation in the USA:
  • “The Russian National Anthem: History and Controversy,” Russia Beyond:
  • “The National Anthem of the Russian Federation,” WorldAtlas:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top