Monday, January 21, 2019

No One Knows How Much Moscow is Spending to Keep Lenin in the Mausoleum

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 21 – Today is the 95th anniversary of the death of Vladimir Lenin, and on that occasion, Aleksandr Malyshev of Nezvisimaya gazeta is asking the inevitable question at times of budgetary stringency: How much is the government spending to keep the body of the founder of the Soviet state in the mausoleum on Red Square. The answer is: no one knows.

            Lenin’s birthday – April 22 – and the date of his death – January 21 – in post-Soviet times have become occasions for communists to lay wreaths at the mausoleum and for others to question whether it is not now time to close this Soviet-era artefact and bury Lenin, the journalist says (

            A few days ago, Malyshev relates, Roman Romanov, the director of the State Museum of the History of the GULAT said that burying Lenin “would be ‘a step forward’” for the country but that it would undoubtedly spark anger among “certain groups.” He proposed opening a museum of ideology in the space freed up by Lenin’s removal from the mausoleum.

            Others are trying to come up with a compromise solution. Vladimir Petrov, a deputy in Leningrad Oblast’s legislative assembly, says that Lenin should definitely be buried but that a copy made of wax or plastic should be put in its place so as not to upset those who are accustomed to visiting Lenin there.

            Petrov suggested that replacing the real Lenin with a plastic one would all for “a serous reduction” in government spending on the costly process of keeping “the body of Lenin in good condition.”

            Another proposal for saving taxpayers’ money has come in from Kirov lawyer Yaroslav Mikhaylov. He says that the government should stop paying for the maintenance of the body of the founder of the Soviet state but instead rent the whole operation out to the KPRF and its leader Gennady Zyuganov. Let them spend money this, and let the Russian state profit, he says.

                In 2016, Malyshev says, there was an unintended release of information by the Russian Federal Protection Service that allowed interested people to calculate that Moscow has been spending “more than 13 million rubles (two million US dollars) every year keeping Lenin in shape. But the FPS has not released any data since that time. 

                The Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate has taken the lead in calling for Lenin’s body to be removed from the mausoleum, while the KPRF is the chief defender of the notion that everything should be left as it is. The two sides argue on the basis of their respective ideological positions. 

            But the odds are good, Mikhaylov’s article suggests, that the decision will all come down to money, as is the case so often in Putin’s Russia – and in a way, that is an entirely fitting conclusion to the celebration of the man who sought to end the power of money by building communism. 

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