Web Stories Tuesday, February 27

TOURIST ATTRACTION

When Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Lenin) died on Jan 21,1924, Soviet authorities at the behest of Stalin began embalming his body and building a mausoleum.

The red and black polished stone temple has stood at the heart of Red Square since October 1930, and briefly housed Stalin’s remains until 1961.

Huge crowds of people queued to pay their respects to Lenin in Soviet times, but today, ceremonies honouring the revolutionary are attended mainly by those nostalgic for the communist era, flags and red carnations in hand.

His embalmed body has become, primarily, a tourist attraction. Once every 18 months, the mausoleum is closed to allow scientists to re-embalm his body and repair the damage caused by time.

Only 23 per cent of Lenin’s body remains intact, housed in a glass sarcophagus at a constant temperature of 16 degrees Celsius, the TASS state news agency has reported.

Since the collapse of the USSR in 1991, a debate about whether to close the mausoleum and bury his body has regularly cropped up in Russian media.

But the proposal has been met with fierce resistance from communists and has never seriously been considered by the authorities.

PUTIN, LENIN AND UKRAINE

Putin rarely mentions Lenin. So his attack on the instigator of the October Revolution, days before ordering his troops into Ukraine on Feb 24, 2022, was notable.

In a vitriolic speech questioning Ukraine’s statehood three days before the attack, the Kremlin leader accused Lenin of having “invented” Ukraine when he founded the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).

By giving the Soviet republics a degree of autonomy, Putin argued, Lenin allowed the emergence of nationalism and the eventual implosion of the USSR.

“It was because of Bolshevik policy that the Soviet Ukraine came into being, which (one) would be perfectly justified to call Lenin’s Ukraine,” Putin raged.

“He is its inventor, its architect,” he continued.

“And now,” Putin said, “grateful descendants have torn down Lenin’s monuments in Ukraine.”

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