Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lenin's Niece Says Keep Him on Red Square

Vladimir Lenin's niece and closest living relative said Tuesday that his preserved corpse, which was returned to the Red Square mausoleum this week after its annual checkup, should stay right where it is.


"His body has been preserved according to the will of the people and must be kept for future generations," said Olga Ulyanova, wading into the latest debate over whether the remains of the Soviet state's founder should be removed from the mausoleum and buried.


Frequently mentioned since the collapse of communism, the contentious issue of whether to bury Lenin was thrust back into prominence again this month when President Boris Yeltsin raised the question in a meeting with Russian newspaper editors.


Even the most tentative of proposals to move the 73-year-old corpse is taken seriously by Lenin's admirers. At a news conference Wednesday, Ulyanova and a group of supporters warned of mass uprisings to defend the mausoleum and the body should anybody decide to attempt to bury it.


Ulyanova, the daughter of Lenin's younger brother, Dmitry, said that as the only remaining close relative, she will never give her consent to Lenin's re-burial.


She dismissed claims that he had asked in his will to be buried in St. Petersburg with his mother and other relatives.


"Why would he wish to be buried there when his beloved wife Nadezhda Krupskaya is buried just 10 meters away from the mausoleum," said Ulyanova, who was only one year old when Lenin died.


Other Lenin supporters at the news conference presented a wide range of reasons why Lenin's body should not be moved. Oleg Shenin of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union said a decision to bury Lenin could spark mass protests.


Yury Izyumov, editor of the newspaper Glasnost, said that Lenin's burial could be a bad omen for Russia.


"On June 19, 1941, Soviet archaeologists opened the tomb of Tamerlane. Just two days later Nazi Germany attacked Russia," he said.


The activists also contend that mummification has a long tradition in Russia, a reference to the preservation of the corpses of Russian Orthodox saints.


Izyumov also argued that Lenin's body should be preserved because his ideas still live in the minds and souls of many Russians. He drew a rosy picture of life in the Soviet Union. "We the had best education, the best health care and even the average life expectancy was on rise," he said.


Inside the cool mausoleum, meanwhile, the corpse of the one-time leader of the world proletariat is said to be doing well after its latest two-month profilatika, or maintenance work.


Yury Denisov of the Research Institute for Biological Structures, which oversees Lenin's preservation, said scientists working on the corpse over the years have brought it to stage in which it could be preserved almost forever with proper care.


Though he refused to discuss the political aspects of preservation, Denisov said the burial of Lenin would be a big loss for Russian science.


"This preservation is a unique case in the scientific practice worldwide," he said.


"If it is decided that it should be buried, we would not be terribly sad, but we would be displeased by the fact that something we are so proud of would disappear," Denisov added.