The Volokh Conspiracy

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Ukraine War Music

"Where Is the Third Rome, Where Is the Third Reich, and Where Is Pompeii?"


Maksim Pokrovsky, a prominent Russian musician who is now working in New York, has just released this song; it has been out for 15 hours on YouTube, and so far has been viewed 825K views. My sense is that Pokrovsky is fairly prominent, as the frontman of Nogu Svelo! (literally, "Leg Cramp!"), which has been around for over 30 years.

Since the start of the war in Febturary, he has put out several anti-war songs recently, mostly satirical and often quite witty (and vulgar): "We Don't Need the War!," "Backward, Russia!," "The Letter Ziu" (my favorite of the four), and "Generation Zed" (opening line: "Russians, we shat everything away"). This one, though, called just "Ukraine," has a different tone; I liked its mix of the impassioned political outrage and the everyday (the wartime everyday)—"I hope the patrol won't waste their bullets on us / I hope we have enough diesel fuel"—so I thought I'd pass it along. I have to say the video does not work for me at all (everyone's a critic), but whether or not you agree with me on that, I hope you enjoy the words. Note that "the Third Rome" refers to the historical Russian concept, originating around 1500, that Moscow is the heir of Rome and Constantinople.

Here are the English lyrics, very slightly adapted from the translation that comes with the YouTube video:

[Refrain (next two stanzas)

My other half!
A deadly avalanche from heaven,
Will come down at the whim of obsessions.

From the Dnieper to Berlin
Let angels fly unseen,
Keeping your children safe along the way.

Son, don't fear and wait a bit.
The air raid sirens will go quiet.
They seem to have subsided,
It seems the enemy has flown away.
Looks like you and I survived today.

Don't be afraid, daughter, and wait a little longer,
I know it's not an easy road ahead,
I hope the patrol won't waste their bullets on us,
I hope we have enough diesel fuel.


Son, don't be afraid and wait a bit.
No one knows what God has going on there.
And with whom he is contending now.
We just need to hold on a little longer.

They salivate among the bloody puddles
And summon spirits at the cost of innocent souls.
They call themselves descendants of the gods,
Bringing ruined cities as a sacrifice.

Don't be afraid, daughter,
Love is always stronger!
Where is the Third Rome, where is the Third Reich, and where is Pompeii?
But they will live and become only greater—Odessa, Kiev, Kharkiv, Mariupol, Bucha!