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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lenin: 70 Years Later What Is to Be Done?

These are tough times for keepers of the Lenin faith.


On Friday, the 70th anniversary of Lenin's death, the Lenin Museum's dwindling number of workers will place flowers at his mausoleum and then return to the museum to continue dismantling his memorabilia.


"On the 70th anniversary of his death, we are burying the Lenin Museum," the museum's director, Tatyana Koloskova, said wistfully.


The city government has ordered the Lenin Museum to clear out by next month so that the new City Duma can have a new home by next year.


Lenin's embalmed body, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary as a displayed corpse Friday, is likely to be buried soon, according to government officials, reducing him to the status of a common mortal.


His brain, which was sliced into 30,000 pieces on his death, pickled and studied for decades to discover the secrets of genius, has recently been pronounced quite ordinary by officials at the Moscow Brain Institute.


Lenin's embalmers have for a year been advertising their services to give the Lenin treatment to anyone with enough cash to pay. So far, there have been no buyers.


Adding insult to injury, the devoted will not even be able to pay their last respects -- again -- to the founder of the Soviet state, who died at his country home outside Moscow on Jan. 21, 1924. The mausoleum will be closed as usual Friday, so his embalmers can dab fluids on his face and hands to keep them looking as fresh as possible.


"We have fixed working days," an official at the mausoleum curtly explained.


The masses have never before been deprived of visiting rights to Lenin on the anniversary of his death, according to Alexei Abramov, head of a private organization that raises funds for preservation of the mausoleum.


"In the past, even on the days the mausoleum was scheduled to close, they opened it up," said Abramov, who has written several books on the mausoleum.


Inside the tomb, at least, Lenin's body remains whole. But at the dying Lenin Museum off Red Square, many of his statues have been cut into pieces for easier storage and transport. In a telling sign of the times, the amputation of seemingly indestructible statues has revealed a soft plaster interior and false bronzed exterior.


The pieces lie haphazardly on the museum floor awaiting packing, but no one seems to know when, where or, indeed, if the exhibits will be unpacked in the future.


"There's no place to put the full statues," said museum researcher Olga Grankina. "They must be taken apart for storage."


Museum officials are also grappling with how to remove Lenin's black Rolls-Royce, which he used in 1922 and 1923. Though the vintage automobile still functions, museum director Koloskova said, it may have to be removed from its place on the second floor through a window by crane.


Many of the smaller exhibits have already been put into used cartons, and other than paintings on the wall, many halls are empty but still patrolled by the elderly women who once proudly told visitors about Lenin.


"I come to work and I am melancholy; there's nothing left for us to do," said Nina Bubnova, 65, a 10-year veteran of the Lenin Museum halls.


About half of the museum's 140 employees, who still call each other "comrade," have already left. In what Grankina called "a bitter irony," Moscow's city government has hired a German firm to help dismantle the exhibitions. In 1917, it was the Germans who provided Lenin with a secret train so that he could return to Russia and lead the revolution.


Even as the Lenin cult fades 70 years after the man's death, some of his followers still plan to mark the anniversary. At 11 A.M. Friday, members of Gennady Zyuganov's Russian Communist Party will lay flowers at the closed mausoleum with others who want to pay tribute, Abramov said.


On Saturday, City Hall will allow up to 50,000 pro-Communists to hold a noon rally at the Paveletsky funeral train museum, where Lenin's corpse arrived from the countryside on Jan. 23, 1924. They will not, however, be allowed to march across Moscow toward Red Square, a path Stalin and his comrades followed on a bitterly cold morning 70 years ago when they carried Lenin's coffin. Abramov said the demonstrators plan to march to Red Square anyway to visit the mausoleum, which will be open Saturday.


That could be the last tribute of its kind. If Russia's reformers have their way, Lenin, who lived 53 years and then was preserved in a glass box for the next 70 years, will spend his next anniversary underground.