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Why Do We Keep Preserving the Body of Lenin?

Preserving it will cost almost $200,000, but removing it from Red Square could split the country into Reds and Whites again, and that would be stupid 

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This post first appeared on Russia Insider


The author is a well-known journalist, a winner of the Andrei Sakharov Journalism Prize


Preserving Lenin’s body will cost around US$200,000 in 2016 – as posted on the Government procurement website.

Although the All-Russian Research Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants will take care of the body as before, those who like to count will probably ask why?

And of course, the anti-Communists and also many Orthodox who consider the unburied mummy of the proletariat leader on Red Square as blasphemy, will as usual have their say. Unfortunately, this has been an on-going blasphemy and everyone gave up a long time ago. 

Then it came out that 3,000 years after the Ancient Egyptians invented embalming, their know-how has been revived (no pun intended): more than ten countries have built tombs of different sizes (North Korea, for example, spent about $300 million or 6% of GDP to mummify Kim Il-sung’s body). Only five of these still function, including the one in Moscow.  

This is probably not because people in Russia are so devoted to Lenin. In fact, he is rather slowly but surely being forgotten. In a couple of generations, most people will only know that he is “the guy in the bronze cap lying in Red Square”. For us, it’s instinctive to preserve the incorruptible body of the Revolutionary leader. 

Most people don't give a damn who is lying in Red Square, yet at the same time the majority are instinctively against any changes, even symbolic. They understand subconsciously that the cons of burying Vladimir Lenin outweighs the pros. 

So far, the modest Orthodox whisper, ‘Bury him, don’t torture his soul’, contrasts with the flaming insults of people who miss the USSR.  A solemn removal of Lenin’s body from Red Square could split the country into the Reds and the Whites again, and that would really be stupid. 


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