The most popular protest song in Moscow today comes from burly men in blue berets, perhaps thought of as unlikely heroes of a peaceful middle-class movement challenging the strongman rule of Vladimir Putin. The internet hit is becoming the anthem for Russian protesters as they march against Putin's rule. It is a simple but catchy song and was performed at a protest rally for the first time last weekend. It was clear that many of the tens of thousands of the crowds knew the words. On a snowy square across a frozen river from the Kremlin, the protesters sang along with the chorus, which sums up their weariness with Putin as he intends to extend his twelve years in power by winning a presidential election in March. The lyrics are thought to say:
You're just like me, a man not a god. I'm just like you, a man not a sod.
The musicians in the video aren't rock stars, indeed they are elite veterans of the Russian army. The former paratroopers' song is just one of the many musical, literary and artistic creations that have inspired and enlivened the protest movement that is still largely the reserve of erudite, urban Russians. In the few days since it was posted, more than 1 million people have watched the YouTube video for the song, catapulting its band into sudden stardom.
The protests against the Russian election are thought to be the biggest protests since fall of USSR. Thousands of people have attended the biggest anti-government rally in the Russian capital Moscow since the fall of the Soviet Union. As many as 50,000 people gathered on an island near the Kremlin to condemn alleged ballot-rigging in parliamentary elections and demand a re-run. Communists, nationalists and Western-leaning liberals turned out together despite divisions between them. But as one of the protesters put it to our correspondent, Russia is changing.
This is one of the most recent examples of how the dissemination of music can be used a medium for political change.