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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lenin's God-Like Image Debunked in New Book

A prominent Russian historian who studied thousands of once-secret files describes Vladimir Lenin in a new book released Thursday as an evil, strong-willed leader who saw the Russian people as "idiots." In the first major work about Lenin by a Russian author since the Soviet collapse in 1991, Dmitry Volkogonov reviles the Soviet founder in what he called the first "honest" book about him in Russia. His conclusions echo those of Western historians but would not have been publishable in Russia until recently. A decade ago, his views would have been considered treasonous. Volkogonov, a retired colonel general and senior military adviser to President Boris Yeltsin, says Lenin unquestionably initiated the terror that his successor Josef Stalin used to kill millions. "The leader's main quality was his enormous, fanatic belief in the Communist Utopia," he says in opening remarks to "Lenin." "To achieve it in practice, Lenin would not stop at anything: terrorism, lies, hostage-taking." Among his opinions and findings are the following: ?Lenin wanted to commit suicide in the final months of his life, but his wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya, Stalin and the Politburo all refused to provide him with cyanide. ?In a 1918 letter to Communist colleagues, Lenin ordered that at least 100 peasants be publicly hanged to retaliate for a small local revolt: "This needs to be accomplished in such a way that people (in a widespread area) will see, tremble, know and scream out." ?Lenin was anything but the kind man honored by the party, and disdained his countrymen. He referred to them frequently as "fools" and "idiots." ?Lenin "never liked Russia." To back his claim, Volkogonov cites Lenin giving away half of European Russia and working fervently for his country's defeat in World War I -- both to preserve his power. Volkogonov has previously written candid books about Stalin and Trotsky, the other two key figures in the Bolshevik Revolution. But the former Soviet army propaganda chief, who once considered Lenin a living God, found it "painful" to reassess the Soviet founder. "Lenin's fortress was the last to fall in my soul," said Volkogonov.