February 11, 2023

"Glory to Siberia," A Desecration to the Anthem?


"Glory to Siberia," A Desecration to the Anthem?
Fans singing "Glory to Siberia" before a game. Dmitry Pirogov, Youtube.

Every time the Russian national anthem has been played before recent games, fans of the Russian ice hockey club Siberia replaced the line "Glory to the State" with "Glory to Siberia." In response, on February 8, the Russian-Belarusian-Kazakh Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) sent a letter to the Siberia team asking it to stop its fans from changing the lyrics.

If accused of profaning the flag or coat of arms, Russians can face up to a year in prison. Traditionally, disrespecting the national anthem is considered an administrative offense, so those charged must pay a fine.

In October 2022, legislators from the St. Petersburg assembly proposed adding a provision to include the desecration of the anthem to the criminal code. On February 7, the initiative was supported by the upper chamber of the Russian Duma, but a decision has yet to be taken.

A source close to the situation told Kommersant Siberia: "In the club, there still is no grasp of how it can gain leverage over an audience of two million," reflecting puzzlement at how amplified the provincial incident has become.

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