Russian culture minister: It’s time to bury Lenin

Lenin’s tomb on Red Square is one of the world’s more macabre national monuments, with dark lighting, stone-faced guards, and of course Vladimir Ilyich himself giving it the feel of a state-sponsored haunted house. Russia’s brand new culture minister has reignited the debate over whether the late Bolsehvik leader ought to finally be laid to ...

Julian Finney/Getty Images
Julian Finney/Getty Images
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Lenin's tomb on Red Square is one of the world's more macabre national monuments, with dark lighting, stone-faced guards, and of course Vladimir Ilyich himself giving it the feel of a state-sponsored haunted house. Russia's brand new culture minister has reignited the debate over whether the late Bolsehvik leader ought to finally be laid to rest:

A body should be interred in the earth," Medinsky said, who added that he was in favour of making it a state occasion. "I would observe all the appropriate ceremonies. As [Lenin] was a senior public figure the funeral should happen with all fitting state rituals, distinctions and a military salute in a suitable place."

With this observation, Medinsky was drawing a comparison with the treatment of Stalin, whose embalmed corpse was spirited away from its place beside Lenin one night in 1961 on the orders of Nikita Khrushchev and buried by the Kremlin's walls.

Lenin’s tomb on Red Square is one of the world’s more macabre national monuments, with dark lighting, stone-faced guards, and of course Vladimir Ilyich himself giving it the feel of a state-sponsored haunted house. Russia’s brand new culture minister has reignited the debate over whether the late Bolsehvik leader ought to finally be laid to rest:

A body should be interred in the earth," Medinsky said, who added that he was in favour of making it a state occasion. "I would observe all the appropriate ceremonies. As [Lenin] was a senior public figure the funeral should happen with all fitting state rituals, distinctions and a military salute in a suitable place."

With this observation, Medinsky was drawing a comparison with the treatment of Stalin, whose embalmed corpse was spirited away from its place beside Lenin one night in 1961 on the orders of Nikita Khrushchev and buried by the Kremlin’s walls.

The famous mausoleum where Soviet leaders stood to review military parades, should stay, said Medinsky. "It must remain," he said. "It would be possible to turn it into a museum of Soviet history that would be very well visited and could have expensive tickets."

But the comments created such a furore that Medinsky had to clarify his position.

"It remains exclusively my personal opinion as a citizen," the culture minister, whose appointment Putin approved last month, later wrote on his blog.

This gets brought up periodically and so I wouldn’t expect Lenin to make a move any time soon, though a small majority of Russians now favor it. 

This isn’t the first time Medinsky, a bestselling pop historian, has waded into controversy.  He’s also suggested the the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany "deserves a monument," argued that the Soviets never occupied the Baltic countries, and been accused of plagiarism. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy  Twitter: @joshuakeating

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