It calls for wheat. is wheat germ the same? If I can use wheat germ - the recipe says to soak the wheat in cold water overnight, would this be necessary with wheat germ?
No, the recipe means that you should use whole wheat berries, not processed in any way. It's not wheat germ, which is a kind of cereal.
My suggestion would be to use real wheat. If your regular supermarket doesn't carry it, an organic supermarket, a health store, or an ethnic store may have it. Then go on with the recipe as suggested.
Using wheat germ will in principle also give you an edible dish, but it won't be a traditional kutya. You don't have to soak it first. In fact, it may not be necessary to cook it either - but for that, somebody else with more cereal experience will be able to give better advice.