Bury Lenin

As incredible as it might sound, twenty years after the fall of Communism in Russia, the body of Vladimir Lenin is still on display in Red Square. There has been talk of finally burying him since the collapse of the Soviet Union but the unreconstructed Communists have resisted any such move and nothing has been done. Recently, however, Russia’s Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky has suggested that it is time to bury the former leader. Here is the story in the Washington Times.

Russians soon may come not to praise Lenin, but to bury him.

The embalmed body of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin has lain in a glass coffin in a mausoleum on Moscow’s Red Square since his death in 1924.

But recent comments by Russia’s new culture minister have brought closer the possibility that the father of the Bolshevik Revolution could finally be laid to rest, signaling an end to the cult of Lenin.

“I have always believed that a body should be entrusted to the earth,” said Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky late last month. “And Lenin’s relatives begged the authorities not to place him in the mausoleum.”

“Many things in our life would symbolically change for the better after this [burial],” Mr. Medinsky said, adding that he thinks Lenin should be buried with full state honors and his Red Square mausoleum turned into a museum of the Soviet era.

I wish they would bury him. I can’t help but think that it is more than a little ghastly to have a man’s body on public display, and it was not what Lenin wanted. The Russian people seem to agree.

An online poll held by United Russia on the anniversary of Lenin’s January 1924 death found that 70 percent of the 270,000 Russians surveyed favored burying his remains.

“I guess we should wait for a while so as not to upset the old folk,” said Alexander Kashin, 25, an office manager walking on Red Square. “But I’m totally in favor of burying him at some point. After all, this isn’t ancient Egypt.”

Which brings up the question of why Lenin’s body was preserved, since as I said he had expressed no such wish while he was alive. I had thought that the cult of Lenin was set up by Stalin to enhance his own power and prestige, but it seems there was more to it. Unbelievably, the early Bolsheviks actually thought that Lenin would rise from the dead. Not by a miracle, of course, but through science.

Russians of all ages are familiar with the rallying cry “Lenin lived, Lenin lives, Lenin will live!” But very few are aware that it was no mere slogan: Certain Soviet officials believed Lenin would rise from the grave to inspire the world’s proletariat once more.

The construction of Lenin’s tomb was overseen by Soviet Foreign Trade Minister Leonid Krasin, a follower of the ideas of 19th-century Moscow-based ascetic-philosopher Nikolai Fyodorov, who was convinced that science eventually would conquer death.

Krasin successfully argued for Lenin to be embalmed to preserve his body for future science. A subsequent statement in the state-run Izvestia newspaper said workers of the world “would not be reconciled” with Lenin’s death and would not rest until he was resurrected by Soviet scientists.

Maybe this was ancient Egypt.

Just bury him.

It is a little depressing to note that Lenin still holds a prominent place in the hearts and minds of the Russian people, even those who are not Communists.

More than 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Lenin remains very much an everyday presence in modern Russia.

The country’s biggest library and a nearby subway station in Moscow are both named after the founder of the Soviet state. And though the city of Leningrad reverted to its czarist-era name of St. Petersburg in 1991, the region that surrounds it still bears Lenin’s name — as does Leningrad, one of the country’s biggest rock bands.

Dozens of Lenin statues still stand across Russia, with more than 80 in Moscow alone. A newly restored Lenin statue was unveiled in the Urals city of Ufa late last year, and the ceremony was attended by senior Communist Party officials.

Lenin was an evil, cruel tyrant. His crimes and atrocities have been overshadowed by the much greater crimes and atrocities of his successor Joseph Stalin, but Lenin paved the way for Stalin. All the gulags, secret police, oppression and mass murders of Stalin were begun by Lenin and it was only through Lenin that Stalin was able to rise to power.

But, then, who else to the Russians have to venerate? It is Russia’s misfortune that all their great leaders have been evil, cruel tyrants. We got George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. They got Ivan the Terrible, Peter the “Great”, and Lenin.

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