Goodbye Lenin? Putin's party mulls removing body

MOSCOW Sun Jan 23, 2011 7:20pm IST

A Russian serviceman takes a picture of Lenin's Mausoleum in Red Square in central Moscow during a military parade training, April 29, 2008.  REUTERS/Mikhail Voskresensky/Files

A Russian serviceman takes a picture of Lenin's Mausoleum in Red Square in central Moscow during a military parade training, April 29, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Mikhail Voskresensky/Files

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Lenin may be turned out of his tomb if a campaign launched by members of Russia's ruling party succeeds in closing down his mausoleum on Red Square.

"His presence as a central figure in a necropolis at the heart of our nation is an utter nonsense," member of parliament Vladimir Medinsky wrote on the official website of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's United Russia party.

At www.goodbyelenin.ru -- a nod to the hit German comedy about the collapse of Communism -- the party ran a click-to-vote poll. It said over 100,000 people, or two in three of those taking part, backed the proposal to remove the embalmed body of the Bolshevik revolutionary and to give him a normal burial.

It was not clear whether the idea, regularly aired in the 20 years since the break-up of the Soviet Union, has the support of Putin, who last year counselled against a rush to move Lenin.

More scientific opinion polls in recent years have also found a majority of Russians favour removing the remains of the man who, after his death on Jan. 21, 1924, was virtually deified by his heirs in a Communist party that suppressed religion.

Medinsky noted that Lenin himself had had no such wish.

In Soviet times, lines snaked around Red Square as the faithful waited to file past the mummified body under the walls of the Kremlin. Few make the effort today. And maintaining the corpse is a constant and growing headache for the embalmers.

Russian liberals have long wanted the last vestiges of Lenin gone. But the Communist party remains a voice in parliament and speaks up for nostalgists who want the mausoleum to be kept.

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; editing by Alastair Macdonald)

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