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How Lenin's Tomb Divides Modern Russia

The tomb has an uneasy place in Russian society. The liberals and the Russian Church are urging for it to be closed, but the building is akin to a sacred place to Communists

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These photos of the staging for the coming Victory Day commemoration in Moscow were found on blogger Periskop's live-journal

The original title of their entry reveals what stood out to them:

"So, the Mausoleum will be covered on the 70th anniversary of the Victory"

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Yes, behind this staging is Lenin's tomb, the Mausoleum. This has been the center of recent controversy, with elements of both the Orthodox clergy and the pro-western liberal intelligentsia and media calling for it to be removed.  

Lenin's tomb is of quasi-religious importance to the world's many millions of communists.  For those with means to travel, the experience of going to Lenin's tomb might even be compared to a Muslim's Hajj to Mecca, or a Christian's pilgrimage to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. 

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Nevertheless, what we can see on the staging clearly is the communist emblem of the hammer and sickle. 

The way that modern Russia has metabolized and reflected on its communist past is very different from how Germany has done with Nazism. Communist symbolism in Russia has also largely been subsumed, re-framed, and re-contextualized to represent Russian patriotism from the war-time period and beyond. 

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While there is something of a debate in Russia today about its appropriateness, there is 'no' debate in Germany - in fact the display of Nazi symbolism is illegal, and apologies for that period can be illegal and are almost always career ending. 

This is because -  contrary to sentiments among some cross-sections of the populations of Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine and those in government - it is difficult to make socially meaningful analogies between Nazism and communism. 

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In Russia, according to numerous polls that are easy to reference on any search engine, more than half of the population views the communist period in generally positive ways. 

This often surprises those in far western countries like the US and the Anglosphere, many of whom were taught that Nazism and communism are morally and historically equivalent 'totalitarian ideologies'.  

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The blogger 'Periskop' shows us this photo below of the first Victory Day in 1945, Lenin's tomb is clearly visible with the name of Lenin on the bomb appearing between the trees. 

This year's Victory day marks the 70th - a big 'round number' - and these are always more important than the odd number years - an interesting feature of how minds connect to numbers in 5's and 10's - is this through socialization or is it inherent to structures of the mind?

The US has attempted to make this important Victory Day one shrouded in controversy, pressuring world leaders not to attend.  

Nevertheless, next Saturday's observance will be quite special. Among other things, it will be the first with Crimea recognized as an integral part of Russia. 

We note here that many analysts of the conflict in Ukraine as well as leaders in Novorossiya have stated publicly their belief that the Kiev Junta will try to create serious provocations on or around the May 9th date. 


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