‘Probe Lenin as extremist!’: Historian’s urge divides opinion

Vladimir Lenin (Ulyanov) (1870-1924), the leader of the Bolshevik revolution, the head of the Soviet government (1917-1924) (RIA Novosti)
A historian has asked Russia’s Investigative Committee for permission to check the works of Vladimir Lenin for extremism as they were based on social hatred and advocated the most radical methods for achieving the stated goals.

Vladimir Lavrov, a leading scientist in the Russian History Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, wrote a personal letter to Investigative Committee Chairman Aleksandr Bastrykin asking to employ his expertise on Lenin’s books.

“The cornerstone of Leninism is inciting social hatred and the propaganda of people’s inferiority based of their social affiliation. Leninism is the ideology of using extreme means to get a desired effect,” the address reads.

The historian goes on to write that Lenin’s preaching of “social racism and genocide” resulted in crimes that have no limitation period. He claims that Lenin publicly justified terrorism and also personally commanded certain terrorist operations – such as setting up concentration camps and launching the “red terror” policy during the civil war.

Lavrov backed his position with 28 of Lenin’s quotes. Besides, according to the scholar, the complete collection of Lenin’s works is, in fact, incomplete, as even devoted supporters of the revolutionary chose not to include in it the most outrageous of Lenin’s works.

Russia’s reaction to the initiative was very different.

Arseny Roginsky, head of Russia’s major Human Rights NGO Memorial, said that the idea was senseless and suggested canceling or seriously changing the current law on extremism.

“This is stupid. The man was a revolutionary. He called to overthrow the state regime and never concealed this. Why should this be called extremism?” the activist said.

At the same time, a top cleric of the Russian Orthodox Church, Archpriest Dmitry Smirnov, fully supported the idea. The priest said that this could be the first step in destroying the positive image of Lenin that still exists in certain strata of the society.

“Of course, no one is reading Lenin now, and there is little sense in seizing the books, but the probe for extremism is good as it could be a step towards Lenin’s legacy sharing the fate of Hitler’s legacy in Germany,” he said.

Smirnov also said that he personally thought that Lenin was a much worse person than Hitler as “Hitler treated his own people much better”.

“Hitler was a demagogue and Lenin was a shameless open cynic and a villain,” the priest said.

Smirnov has already publicly opposed the late revolutionary and philosopher, calling upon all believers to “pray for the destruction of the mummy of Ulyanov-Lenin and for bringing down the Bolshevik idols that stand all over Russia.”