Russia, Belarus Hold Contest for Union Anthem

A winner of the contest for the best anthem of the Russo-Belarussian Union will be announced within April-May 2003 in Moscow.

An ad hoc group has selected 56 versions that will be submitted to the contest commission headed by Russian State Duma, or the lower parliamentary house, Speaker Gennady Seleznyov, Ivan Makushok, press spokesman for Pavel Borodin, Executive Secretary of the Union, said Monday.

Famed Russian and Belarussian composers and poets, as well as their colleagues from the former Soviet republics of Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, have offered their music and lyrics for the contest.

The anthem the jury will select will be offered for consideration of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Russo-Belarussian Union and then for approval of the Union's Supreme Council.

The Union's news agency announced the contest back in April 2002.

The winner will receive 300,000 roubles of prize money ($1 equals around 32 roubles).