MOSCOW — When it comes to national anthems, Russians have a problem coming up with words.
The 1943 anthem chosen by dictator Josef Stalin was a paean to himself and the Communist Party. The words were rewritten in the 1970s to remove Stalin but leave in Communist orthodoxy. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, then-President Boris N. Yeltsin signed a decree establishing a new anthem, but it had no lyrics and never caught on.
This month, President Vladimir V. Putin brought back the Stalin-era music, which was approved by parliament even though it also had no new words. Putin asked the poet who wrote the previous two versions--Sergei Mikhailkov, 87--to come up with new lyrics.
Mikhailkov had little to work with. It isn't easy in these post-Soviet times to agree on what Russia is and nearly impossible to figure out what it stands for. The new words unveiled Friday are stripped of nearly all ideology and history, and wind up concentrating on geography.
Here are the new lyrics to the anthem, as translated by the Los Angeles Times.
Russia--our great and sacred nation!
Russia--our beloved country!
Mighty power and great glory
Are your attributes for all time.
Glory to you, our free Fatherland,
The eternal union of brotherly peoples,
The popular wisdom passed on by our ancestors,
Praise to the country, we are proud of thee.
From the Southern seas to the polar regions,
Our forests and fields stretch wide and far.
You are unique on Earth! There is only one like you!
Protected by God, our dear land.
A wide expanse for dreaming and living,
The future will open to us through the years,
We draw our strength from our loyalty to the Fatherland,
Thus it was, thus it is, thus it will always be!