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CNN Today

Russia's National Anthem: A Song Unsung

Aired August 1, 2000 - 2:55 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: A country's anthem is more than just a song, it is a declaration of national pride. But, in Russia, singing the national anthem is a problem. The post-Soviet-era tune has no lyrics.

Here is CNN's Steve Harrigan in Moscow.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE HARRIGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Not even riot police, mounted police, foot patrols, interior ministry forces, and private security can keep the peace when Spartak plays Red Army in Moscow.

In this crowd, it's just one officer, swinging a club. They fight in the stands and on the field. Now a coach is hoping music will soothe the savage breast. A new national anthem for a country that has none.

The Soviet anthem, which praised Stalin, was replaced by a Russian anthem which has no words. That makes it hard for the home team.

VALENTIN POKROVSKY, SPARTAK SOCCER MANAGER (through translator): We can't sing! We can't sing! And our people love to sing. Our people are spiritual. That's why we need lyrics for the anthem.

HARRIGAN: Players petitioned the president for lyrics.

MAXIM BIKOV, RED ARMY PLAYER: If they've thought up some words, we need to hear them before every game to strengthen our spirit.

HARRIGAN: After eight years of committees and contests, there are still no words to the Russian national anthem. Many people mix up the old and the new.

In the latest twist, the new president says he prefers the old Soviet anthem with new words.

(on camera): That idea is likely to appeal to a parliament which has already tried to bring back the Soviet flag and the hammer and sickle.

Steve Harrigan, CNN, Moscow. (END VIDEOTAPE)

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