Bury Lenin, Says Gorbachev
Currently Lenin's embalmed corpse is encased in glass and on display in a mausoleum in Moscow's Red Square. Little by little, over the years, the official ceremony surrounding the upkeep of the mausoleum has been stripped away, but no leader has yet called for the final step of actually burying Lenin's body.
Mikhail Gorbachev said that Lenin’s body should be removed from the mausoleumon Red Square and buried, as the Bolshevik revolutionary’s family hadwanted. But the former Soviet president gave no indication of when hebelieved the corpses of Lenin and other Soviet leaders would be removed fromthe Kremlin.
“One day we will come to see no cemetery or Lenin’s body near the KremlinWall. He should be committed to the ground,” Mr Gorbachev told reporters inMoscow. “I think this will happen. Time will tell.”
The issue remains highly sensitive for Russia’s leadership, even though mostacknowledge the absurdity of keeping Lenin on display 16 years after theSoviet Union’s collapse in 1991. The mausoleum used to attract long lines ofvisitors during Soviet times as school parties, tour groups, andtrue-believers queued to pay their respects to a figure elevated to almostmythical status by party propaganda.
Mr Gorbachev, 77, also backed a campaign to establish a fitting memorial tothe millions of people who were persecuted by the Soviet regime and died inthe gulags. The campaign is being led by the Memorial human rightsorganisation, which has documented the repressions that began under Leninand peaked with the purges launched by his successor Joseph Stalin.
“This is a big problem for our country. It touches almost every family,millions of our country’s people. We should do much more. The rehabilitationof the victims is still not complete,” said Mr Gorbachev.
“There is of course the literature, the archives, the memory passed on by ourparents but there isn’t a single space to bring together this sadness.” MrGorbachev supported calls to establish part of the memorial at Moscow’snotorious 18th Century Butyrka prison, where detainees were taken beforebeing sent into prison camps spread across Central Asia and Siberia.
A statement signed by Mr Gorbachev and other prominent intellectualscriticised recent moves to rewrite Russian history and restore Stalin’simage as a great leader. It said: “The true history is giving way to mythsand coldly written paragraphs in textbooks. On the basis of a voided memory,Stalin’s sinister image is returning, this time as an effectiveadministrator.”