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The 7 Best Soviet Military Songs to Play on Victory Day

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Russia will commemorate 70 years since the Allied victory over Nazi Germany this Saturday, May 9. The day will be marked by a huge parade through the center of Moscow, involving some 200 military vehicles along with 150 aircraft.

Another way in which Russian people remember the Great Patriotic War is through songs. In the run-up to Saturday, The Moscow Times has compiled a list of the most popular military songs.

1. Cranes / Zhuravli

“It sometimes seems to me that all the soldiers,

Who never returned from bloody battlefields,

Do not lie in the ground where they fell,

But turned into white cranes.”

For the full lyrics (in Russian) click here.

This famous song performed by Soviet actor and singer Mark Bernes originally came from a poem by Dagestani poet Rasul Gamzatov, who wrote it in his native Avar language in 1968.

The text was translated into Russian by poet-translator Naum Grebnev and published in the “Novy Mir” (New World) literary magazine later that same year.

After reading the poem, Bernes phoned Grebnev and together they adapted the lyrics for a song that they dedicated to the soldiers who died during the Great Patriotic War.

2. Dark Is The Night / Tyomnaya Noch

“Dark is the night, only bullets whistle in the steppe,

Only wind wails through the wires, stars dimly twinkle.

In this dark night, I know that you, darling, cannot sleep

And secretly wipe your tears away near the crib.”

For the full lyrics (in Russian) click here.

The song was originally performed by Mark Bernes in the 1943 war film “Two Soldiers.”

In the film, Bernes plays a soldier who thinks about his wife and young baby at night while singing “Dark Is The Night.”

A Polish version of the song was popularized by singer Vera Gran in the 1960s and can be found here.

3. Oh, The Roads… / Ekh, Dorogi…

“Oh, the roads… dust and fog,

Cold, dismay, and wild grass of the steppe…

Shot will breaks out, raven circling,

Your friend in the wild grass is lying lifeless.”

For the full lyrics (in Russian) click here.

The song was written a few months after the Great Patriotic War ended by Soviet composer and conductor Anatoly Novikov, with lyrics supplied by Lev Oshanin.

Director Sergei Yutkevich had commissioned the song for a theatrical performance on November 7 called “Victorious Spring,” which is where “Oh, the Roads…” was first performed to the public.

“Oh, The Roads” recalls the hardships that the population experienced and endured throughout the course of the war.

4. Katyusha

Let him remember an ordinary girl,

And let him hear how she sings,

Let him take care of the Motherland,

As Katyusha will take care of their love.

For the full lyrics (in Russian) click here.

“Katyusha” was composed in 1938 and was first performed by Soviet jazz singer Valentina Batishcheva. The song became popular during the Great Patriotic War, inspiring people to defend their land from the enemy.

The song tells the story of a young woman, called Katyusha, who longs for her beloved — a soldier, who is serving to protect the motherland.

It is now popular among football fans of the Spartak Moscow football club as well as the Russian national team.

5. Dark-Skinned Girl / Smuglyanka

“The dark-skinned Moldovan girl went by path to the forest,

I was aggrieved to see that she did not call me with her.

I often thought of the dark-skinned Moldovan girl at nights,

And suddenly I met my dark-skinned girl in the partisan squad.”

For the full lyrics (in Russian) click here.

Written in 1940 by poet Yakov Shvedov and composer Anatoly Novikov, the song was intended to glorify the female partisans of the Russian Civil War in 1917-1922. The song tells of how a man falls in love with a young Moldovan woman, who convinces him to join the partisan movement.

“Smuglyanka” was at first considered to be too light-hearted and so it wasn’t performed anywhere for several years. Its first official performance came in 1944, at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow.

The song later appeared in a Soviet film about love, life and death called “Only ‘Old Men’ Are Going to Battle.” The movie was watched by more than 44 million Soviet people, and “Smuglyanka” was soon popularized throughout the whole Soviet Union, becoming an essential part of Russian folk music.

6. Sacred War / Svyashchennaya Voina (also known as “Vstavai, Strana Ogromnaya!” (Arise, the Great Country!)

“Black wings don’t dare

To fly over our Motherland!

Over its spacious fields

The enemy doesn’t dare to trample!”

For the full lyrics (in Russian) click here.

This song, which was performed by the Alexandrov Ensemble, was viewed unofficially as the Soviet Union’s wartime anthem. Notably, Alexander Alexandrov — the ensemble’s leader — also wrote the score of the official Soviet national anthem, which has since become Russia’s national anthem.

“Sacred War” became a favorite among the troops, likely due to the fact that it highlighted the courage and daring of Soviet forces. It gained steam later in the war, as in the early phases it was seen as too dark and foreboding — a song that envisioned a long, tumultuous fight against the “dark fascist forces” rather than an expeditious victory.

As the Nazi forces closed in on Moscow, capturing the relatively close cities of Kaluga, Rzhev and Kalinin, “Sacred War” was played each morning on the All-Union Radio. Popular folklore has it that this song boosted the Soviet forces’ spirits, thereby propelling them toward victory.

7. Victory Day / Den Pobedy

“Hello Mom, not all of us have returned…

How I wish to run barefoot in the dew!

We have trekked across half of Europe, half of the Earth,

We did all we could to hasten this day.”

For the full lyrics (in Russian) click here.

This song, penned by poet Vladimir Kharitonov and composer David Tukhmanov, was written as an entry in a song competition ahead of the 30th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany. The judges were unimpressed, decrying the lyrics as inappropriately light and too frivolous for such a meaningful occasion.

They complained that the melody was reminiscent of something you would dance the tango or the foxtrot to. Both of those dances had been banned from the Soviet Union for being too bourgeois.

But beyond the judges’ panel, the song quickly gained popularity. It has since become one of the most popular songs extolling the virtues of the Soviet army.

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Simon Harris and wife welcome new baby boy

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Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris has announced the birth of a baby son.

Posting on Instagram, the Minister said he and his wife Caoimhe had on Wednesday “welcomed Baby Cillian into the world”. Cillian is the couple’s second child, they also have a daughter Saoirse.

“Caoimhe and baby doing great and Saoirse delighted to be a big sister and looking forward to meeting him soon.”

Mr Harris thanked all of the staff at the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, Dublin.

The Fine Gael TD said he will be taking paternity leave for a few weeks to “get to know this new little man”.

In a previous post he said Tánaiste Leo Varadkar would be taking any of his department’s business to Government during the time while Minister of State Niall Collins would be carrying out his day-to-day work in the department and Labour leader Alan Kelly would be providing a pair for Dáil votes.

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Macron presses Biden for ‘clarifications’ over submarine snub

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Macron was left furious by Australia’s decision last week to ditch a 2016 deal to buy diesel submarines from France in favour of nuclear-powered ones from the United States and Britain.

After a cabinet meeting, government spokesman Gabriel Attal made clear French anger had not abated with an unusually frank statement of Macron’s expectations from the scheduled conversation with 78-year-old Biden.

The exchange would be an opportunity to “clarify both the way in which this announcement was made and the way for an American re-engagement in its relationship with an ally,” Attal said.

Paris was particularly outraged that Australia negotiated with Washington and London in secret, which French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian denounced as “treachery” and a “stab in the back”.

French officials were notified about the loss of the contract just hours before Biden unveiled the new AUKUS security and defence partnership between the three English-speaking countries.

READ ALSO OPINION: France’s Australian submarine row shows that Macron was right about NATO

Macron was expecting “clarifications about the American decision to keep a European ally outside of fundamental talks about cooperation in the Indo-Pacific,” Attal added, without giving the schedule time for the exchange.

“We expect our allies to acknowledge that the exchanges and consultations that should have taken place did not, and that this poses a question about confidence, which all of us need to draw conclusions about now.”

Showdown

The submarine row has plunged Franco-US ties into what some analysts view as the most acute crisis since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, which Paris opposed.

After four years of tumultuous relations with ex-president Donald Trump, the spat has also dashed hopes of a complete reset under Biden, who took office in January aiming to rebuild frazzled ties with Europe.

As the row drags on, observers and some of France’s European partners are wondering how and when the French leader will call an end to the face-off, which is playing out just seven months ahead of presidential elections.

British Prime Minister Johnson said it was “time for some of our dearest friends around the world to ‘prenez un grip’ (get a grip)” in comments in Washington that mixed French and English.

“‘Donnez-moi un break’ because this is fundamentally a great step forward for global security,” he told Sky News.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, whose country is staunchly pro-American, defended Biden as “very loyal” and warned against turning “challenges which will always exist between allies into something they should not be.”

Conditions

Attal said that France and the US needed to begin a process “to create the conditions for confidence to be restored”.

As well as an acknowledgement of French interests in the Pacific region, the process should include “full recognition by our American allies of the need to boost European sovereignty as well as the importance of the growing commitment by the Europeans to their own defence and security.”

This latter point is a source of tension between Biden and Macron, who has pushed hard during his four-and-a-half years in office for Europeans to invest more in defence and pool resources in order to increase their joint military capabilities.

The US, and some EU members including Denmark and Baltic countries, see this as a potential challenge to NATO, the US-led transatlantic military alliance that has been the cornerstone of European defence since World War II.

French Defence Minister Florence Parly argued against the idea of France withdrawing from NATO command structures, which some politicians in France have suggested in the wake of the submarines snub.

“Is it worth slamming the door on NATO? I don’t think so,” she said, while adding that “political dialogue is non-existent in NATO.”

Australia’s decision to order nuclear-powered submarines was driven by concern about China’s commercial and military assertiveness in the Pacific region, where Biden is seeking to build an alliance of democratic states to help contain Beijing.



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Paschal Donohoe plans bank levy extension but lower haul

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Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe will continue the Irish banking levy beyond its scheduled conclusion date at the end of this year, but plans to lower the targeted annual haul from the current €150 million as overseas lenders Ulster Bank and KBC Bank Ireland retreat from the market, according to sources.

Reducing the industry overall levy target will avoid the remaining three banks facing higher levy bills at a time when the Government is seeking to lower its stakes in the bailed-out lenders.

AIB, Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB paid a combined €93 million levy in each of the last two years, according to their latest annual reports. A decision on the new targeted yield, currently linked to deposit interest retention tax (DIRT) collected by banks on customers’ savings, will be announced at the unveiling of Budget 2022 on October 12th.

Originally introduced in 2014 by then minister for finance Michael Noonan for three years to ensure banks made a “contribution” to a recovering economy after the sector’s multibillion-euro taxpayer bailout, the annual banking levy has since been extended to the end of 2021.

A further extension of the levy has largely been expected by the banks and industry analysts, as the sector has been able to use multibillion euro losses racked up during the financial crisis to reduce their tax bills. A spokesman for the Department of Finance declined to comment on the future status of the banking levy as planning for Budget 2022 continues.

AIB, Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB (PTSB) alone have utilised almost €500 million of tax losses against their corporation tax bills between 2017 and 2019, according to Department of Finance figures.

Sources said that the Government will be keen not to land a levy increase on the three lenders at a time when it is currently selling down its stake in Bank of Ireland and plotting a course for the reduction of its positions in AIB and PTSB in time.

The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), which holds the Bank of Ireland stake on behalf of the Minister for Finance, sold 2 percentage points of holding in the market between July and August, reducing its interest to just below 12 per cent.

Meanwhile, it has been reported in recent days that the UK government is planning to lower an 8 per cent surcharge that it has applied to bank profits since the start of 2016. It comes as the general UK corporation tax is set to rise from 19 per cent to 25 per cent in 2023.

“The optics of reducing the surcharge might still be bad politically, but it would signal the partial rehabilitation for the nation’s banking sector,” said Eamonn Hughes, an analyst with Goodbody Stockbrokers, in a note to clients on Tuesday, adding that he continues to factor in a retention of the Irish banking levy in his financial estimates for banks over the medium term.

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