he late Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin died in 1924, and his waxy preserved corpse has been displayed in a mausoleum on Red Square ever since. But Russia's new culture minister, Vladimir Medinsky, insists the time has come to give Lenin a proper burial and consign the Soviet era to the past. Russians have been debating what to do with the body of the leader of the Communist revolution since the fall of the Soviet Union two decades ago. More than half the population now says Lenin should be buried, although the idea is sacrilege to the country's many Communists. Is Russia ready to say goodbye to Lenin?
Russia will bury Lenin soon: Twenty years ago, a dissident who proposed burying Lenin would have been condemned with "incredulity and anger," says Howard Amos in Britain's Guardian. By 2006, 46 percent of Russians were open to the idea, and now 56 percent favor removing Lenin's "curio corpse" from Red Square. The old man is "looking waxier every year," and Moscow bookies bet he'll be buried in 2013. If Nikita Khrushchev could bury Josef Stalin in 1961, the muscular Vladimir Putin can handle Lenin.
"Lenin's sojourn as curio corpse may be over"
Russia isn't ready to let Lenin go just yet: Even if Russians favor burial by a small margin, says Joshua Keating at Foreign Policy, "I wouldn't expect Lenin to make a move anytime soon." Many people see Culture Minister Medinsky (a pop historian who's also argued "that the Soviets never occupied the Baltic states") as a crackpot, for starters. But more importantly, Lenin's tomb "is one of the world's more macabre national monuments, with dark lighting, stone-faced guards, and of course Vladimir Ilyich himself." This "state-sponsored haunted house" is ingrained in the culture.
"Russian culture minister: It's time to bury Lenin"
But Russia needs to put Lenin in perspective: "Lenin should have been buried a long time ago," says Jacob Heilbrunn at The National Interest. But his burial shouldn't be used to bury the Soviet past, and it certainly shouldn't glorify the legacy of murder and destruction that this "sanctimonious windbag" left behind. Replacing the tomb with a museum could erase the image of Lenin as a father figure, and start "telling the truth about this thug." Honestly confronting the past is the first step toward building a better future.
"Goodbye, Lenin: Will Russia really bury the Bolshevik dictator?"
- 4 secret societies you probably don't know about
- This is the twistiest tongue twister ever, says science
- Did God have a wife?
- Which professions have the most psychopaths?
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- The secrets of happy families
- Battle in a blizzard
- 5 theories to explain North Korea's big mysterious purge
- How the porn industry is putting its performers — and finances — at risk
- How to stick it to the poor: A congressional strategy
Subscribe to the Week