Putin’s musical attempt to stop the next Pussy Riot

Putin with a dog!

If you wanted a song to symbolise authoritarianism, what’d you pick? Fair chance, if you gave it a few minutes’ thought, you’d go for Russia’s national anthem.

Over the past few months, I seem to have heard it at every play or art event I’ve been to – its massed choirs acting as musical shorthand for the end of liberal civilisation, perhaps unsurprisingly given Pussy Riot (watch this film now!) and the country’s recent anti-gay laws. It’s an easy shorthand.

But the anthem’s use isn’t just increasing in London. Last week, Vladimir Putin asked his parliament to pass a law requiring Russia’s schools and universities to play the anthem. “Watching the flag and listening to the anthem will bring our citizens back to patriotic feelings,” he said. The word ‘back’ seems the key one in that sentence.

Every student will now have to listen to the anthem at the start of the school year and before going on holiday. Somehow I doubt the move will have the desired effect, but it’ll certainly bolster Putin’s support among conservatives.

As an aside, it’s interesting that Russia’s anthem isn’t as remotely as aggressive as it sounds. The first line’s actually the dull, “Russia, our sacred homeland.” The dangers of singing in a high-pitched voice!

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