Staunton, February 20 – Moscow has been outraged whenever the people of its former imperial domains have taken down statues of Lenin erected in Soviet times, but now it is possible that those same statues may be taken down in the Russian Federation and in the only way the Kremlin would approve of: by state order rather than popular action.
Aleksandr Kurdyumov, an LDPR deputy who is deputy chairman of the Duma’s rules committee, is calling for an initiative to move the statues of Lenin out of the main squares of Russian cities and put them instead in museums of specialized “alleys” along with other memorials of the past (izvestia.ru/news/539904).
Such actions, he told “Izvestiya,” would protect them from vandals, save the government money, and allow those who venerate Lenin to continue to do so. But more important, Kurdyumov said, it would allow the country to achieve a better balance in its memory about the past.
It isn’t only the Soviet period that should be venerated, he said. “One should put up monuments to Petr I, Ivan the Terrible, Aleksandr Suvorov, Mikhail Kutuzov, and Sergey Radonezh,” among others. Kurdyumov said that any moves should be the subject of discussion in each particular city or town, possibly through the use of referenda or polls.
Valery Trapezhnikov, a member of the ruling United Russia party, supports this idea. He told the Moscow paper that in Soviet times, Lenin monuments were put up at state order, but now, they should be taken down only if local people agree. Otherwise, he said, “we could generate a wave of protests.”
“We live in a democratic country and asking the opinion of residents isn’t hard to do,” Trapezhnikov said, but he suggested that there really is no need for more than two to three Lenin monuments in each district. However, it is certain that many Russians would see a government suggestion that the statues come down as something more than a request they could reject.
Not surprisingly, Sergey Obukhov, a KPRF deputy, said he was opposed to any such actions. “Vladimir Ilich Lenin is the founding father of the Russian Federation. We do not have any other. In that, he is just like George Washington in America.” Moreover, he pointed out, “up to now, many laws and decrees” he issued “are still in force.”
But even if the statues of Lenin come down in Russia as a result of the direction of the state – and any indication that the state wanted them down would be taken by many Russians as an order – some Leninist aspects of the Russian state under Vladimir Putin are not about to change.
“Kommersant” reports that the Russian Supreme Court has just refused to declassify NKVD files about the repression of thousands of Russian emigres from China who were forcibly brought back to the USSR, many to the camps or their deaths, despite Boris Yeltsin’s degree and the law on state secrets adopted in his time (kommersant.ru/doc/2670479).