Staunton, September 12 – The announcement by the Union of Architects of Russia of a competition for the best idea about repurposing the mausoleum on Red Square is already sparking controversy as an indication that Vladimir Putin really intends to bury Vladimir Lenin on the centenary of his death in 2024.
The architects say that the mausoleum itself is “an undoubted masterpiece” of 20th century buildings and must be preserved after Lenin’s mummified body is removed and buried. Many of them would like to see it become a branch of their union’s museum (ng.ru/moscow/2020-09-12/100_200912lenin.html).
Russian commentators, some with horror like KPRF head Gennady Zyuganov and others with support like the Moscow Patriarchate, have already weighed in, viewing this announcement as a move by Putin, who has frequently sought to play down Lenin’s legacy and has suggested he would support the burial of his mummy.
The deadline for registering proposals is October 19, with the competition itself set to take place November 11-13. As a result, in the coming weeks, this issue is certain to attract more expressions of support or outrage by those with contrasting views of Lenin and his role in Russian history.
For the moment, it appears Putin is likely to remain in the background as he often does, allowing the debate to expand and intensify in public and the Kremlin to assess what the Russian people will tolerate before he intervenes decisively. What is intriguing is that just as with the amendments extending his time in office, this decision is set to be made quite early.
It may be that the Kremlin leader is using the coronavirus restrictions to keep people from demonstrating about this issue and that reaching a decision while they are still in place will give him the best chance to take a step he has clearly wanted to for some time without political costs he certainly doesn’t want to pay.