Goodbye Lenin? Russians consider burying former Soviet leader's corpse (finally).
The body of former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin has been on display in downtown Moscow for 87 years. A growing number of Russians appear finally willing to bury him.
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Russian communists, who maintain a vast unofficial website devoted to Lenin's mausoleum in Russian and English, have launched their own online poll, which offers voters several more colorful options than just "yes" or "no," including "bury all democrats," "imprison tomb-raiders," and "leave Lenin and his mausoleum in peace."Skip to next paragraph
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Putin opposed removing Lenin
Former President Boris Yeltsin, the first leader of post-Soviet Russia, vowed in the 1990s to evict Lenin from his Red Square tomb, but was stymied by the still-powerful Communist Party and millions of older Russians who still revered Lenin.
His successor, Vladimir Putin, removed the question from the agenda entirely. That gave Lenin, and the huge Kremlin apparatus that keeps his embalmed remains looking "healthy," at least another decade's tenure on Red Square.
But public opinion has changed since then, as shown in a January poll from the independent Levada Center in Moscow. In 1997, according to the poll, 37 percent of Russians thought Lenin should be removed from the mausoleum while 38 percent wanted him to remain. This month, 40 percent supported his removal, while 31 percent wanted him to stay.
A third option, to bury Lenin in the Kremlin wall – a place of great political honor – has picked up a bit of support. Fourteen years ago, the poll found that 13 percent favored that idea; today, 16 percent say it would be best.
Political point scoring?
The decision by Medinsky, a Duma deputy with the party Prime Minister Putin leads, to revive the issue has caught some experts by surprise.
"I wonder if it isn't just a trial balloon by some United Russia functionaries who are a bit scared of their party's electoral prospects and are looking for an issue to raise their popularity," says Sergei Mikheyev, director of the independent Center of Political Assessments in Moscow.
Regional elections will be held around Russia this spring, followed by Duma polls in December.
"The idea of burying Lenin is simply not a burning issue these days," Mr. Mikheyev says. "People who are nostalgic for the Soviet past remain solidly against it, while people who support the idea, such as myself, just don't think it's worth arguing about right now."