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13 Sep, 2020 01:01

‘Spitting on ancestors’ graves’: Russian Communist leader lashes out at talk of re-purposing Lenin’s iconic Red Square Mausoleum

‘Spitting on ancestors’ graves’: Russian Communist leader lashes out at talk of re-purposing Lenin’s iconic Red Square Mausoleum

A competition to plan the re-purposing of the iconic mausoleum of Vladimir Lenin on Moscow’s Red Square has met with a furious response from the leader of Russia’s Communist Party, who called the idea a “dirty provocation.”

The Lenin Mausoleum was completed in 1930 and has housed the revolutionary leader’s body ever since. A years-long debate surrounding the burial of the Soviet leader has been dragging on in Russia, but few dared to plan as far ahead as re-purposing the building itself.

On Friday, however, Russia’s Union of Architects announced a competition for proposals to make additional use of the mausoleum.

With Lenin being the father of the Soviet Union, his place of rest is particularly important to Russia’s Communists, and their leader Gennady Zyuganov was not happy.

"This is a dirty provocation by people who have nothing to do with the country's history or serious architecture," the party leader said, accusing the architects union of "spitting on their ancestors' graves."

No one has the right to climb into this sanctuary with a stupid head and an empty heart

Zyuganov is a controversial character in Russia, having led the Communist Party since 1993. In the Soviet Union, he was a leading critic of leader Mikhail Gorbachev's policies of perestroika and glasnost. Nowadays, he’s known for focusing on issues such as increases to pensions and re-nationalization of companies privatized in the 1990s.

In the face of criticism, the union's president, Nikolay Shumankov, has denied that the competition is at all political.

"We do not propose to remove Lenin. We do not propose to demolish the mausoleum. We propose to find a solution for the further use of the greatest work of Soviet architecture," Shumankov said.

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Results of the competition will be announced at an architecture festival, due to take place between November 11-13 in Moscow.

Lenin, whose real name was Vladimir Ulyanov, is regarded as one of the most influential figures of the 20th century. He led the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, and his works formed the basis of the Soviet Communist ideology that became known as Marxism-Leninism.

Following his death in 1924, Lenin’s body was embalmed to preserve it for public display. A team of scientists has been tasked with watching and re-embalming it. Despite a long hiatus in state funding after the collapse of the Soviet Union, their work continued with the support of the Communist Party.

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