History

Loyal Soviet propagandist Mikhalkov dies

Sergei Mikhalkov, one of Stalin’s favorite propagandists, has died in Moscow at 96.

Among other things, he is known for writing and rewriting the words to the Soviet (and then the Russian) national anthem three times to suit the political line of the time.

In 1943, Mr. Mikhalkov, a young author and war correspondent whose poems were favored by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, was commissioned to write lyrics for a new Soviet anthem designed to inspire Red Army soldiers in the midst of World War II.

Mr. Mikhalkov’s lyrics, co-written with journalist El Registan and set to music by Alexander Alexandrov, praised Stalin, who “brought us up on loyalty to the people” and “inspired us to labor and to heroism.” The anthem propelled Mr. Mikhalkov into stardom that outlived Stalin and the system he created. After the dictator’s death in 1953, the anthem was mostly performed without the lyrics, but Mr. Mikhalkov remained one of the most vocal and outspoken bards of communism.
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In 1977, the Politburo approved adjustments to the national anthem, where Mr. Mikhalkov replaced references to Stalin with phrases glorifying Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin, who “led us on to Communism’s triumph.” After the 1991 Soviet collapse, the Russian government scrapped the anthem, replacing it with an instrumental piece by 19th-century Russian composer Mikhail Glinka.

But after Vladimir Putin became Russian president in 2000, he restored the old anthem. Mr. Mikhalkov adjusted the text again, replacing references to Lenin and the Soviets with a paean to Russia’s “divinely protected” forests and meadows, which span from “southern seas to the polar lands.”…
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His line glorifying Stalin in the original anthem was restored this week to the vestibule of the lavish Kurskaya metro station in Moscow. The line, written in large letters, had been removed during the “de-Stalinization” of the late 1950s. Its restoration reflects Russians’ growing nostalgia about the Stalinist period.

Interestingly Mikhalkov’s son Nikita directed and starred in the anti-Stalinist film “Burnt by the Sun.”

You can listen to the disturbingly stirring Stalin-free, Lenin-praising version of the national anthem (with English subtitles) here. Clearly the video was created by a true believer:

Is that you blubbering, Comrade Galloway?

If you want another side of the story, here’s my 2006 effort at a video response to Galloway’s statement: “If you are asking did I support the Soviet Union, yes I did. Yes, I did support the Soviet Union, and I think the disappearance of the Soviet Union is the biggest catastrophe of my life.”

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