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|Friday, December 08, 2000, updated at 14:15(GMT+8)|
Yeltsin Opposes Using Soviet AnthemIn his first public criticism of his chosen successor, former President Boris Yeltsin strongly assailed Vladimir Putin's move to restore the old Soviet anthem but with new words.
''The situation with the anthem is difficult. Maybe I myself should sit down and write the verses and the music,'' Yeltsin joked in an interview published Thursday in the daily Komsomolskaya Pravda.
''I'm categorically against the restoration of the Soviet anthem,'' Yeltsin said.
Putin has also proposed making the Russian white-red-and-blue flag the country's official flag and bringing back a Soviet-era red banner as the military's flag, while the double headed eagle will be the official state emblem.
Putin said the combination of Soviet and old Russian symbols would help mend deep divisions in society, by paying tribute to the positive heritage of both periods. Putin also cited opinion polls showing that most people favor the old Soviet anthem.
But liberal politicians and many leading cultural figures have assailed the reinstatement of the Soviet anthem, saying it invokes the memory of totalitarian rule and political repression.
Yeltsin supported that view, dismissing the argument that the Soviet anthem's music was good, easy to remember and associated with Soviet-era sports victories and other achievements.
''My only association with the old anthem is party congresses and conferences that consolidated the power of the party's bureaucrats,'' he said.
The lower house of parliament, dominated by pro-government factions, is expected to endorse Putin's proposals on the flag and anthem on Friday.
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