Lenin is Alive

1999 > Russia

The Man behind all the Madness

January 21, 1999, Itar-Tass News Agency

“Russia Marks Lenin’s Death Anniversary With Mixed Feelings;”

By Andrey Yarushin, Olga Kostromina, Lyudmila Yermakova, Inna Zhukova

MOSCOW — The Russian Orthodox Church is extremely cautious about the interment
of the embalmed body of Vladimir Lenin which has lain in the Mausoleum in
Red Square for 75 years. Burying embalmed bodies appears to be at variance
with Russian historical tradition, but the head of the Russian Orthodox church,
Patriarch Aleksiy of Moscow and All Russia, has repeatedly stressed that
any radical measures in this case are inadmissible as they can spark instability
in society in which many citizens still cherish communist ideas. Neither
the Church, nor the state must undertake moves that would cause a rift, the
Patriarch cautioned. Forcible measures can lead to confrontation in society,
which would have particularly grievous consequences in conditions of on-going
political confrontation of different political forces.

Despite recurring rumours, the body of Vladimir Lenin, who died 75 years
ago at the age of 53 has been well preserved in the Mausoleum. It is unstained
and it is not a wax work. Specialists of the Scientific centre of biological
structures have been taking care of the body for 75 years, a unique experiment
in conservation of the leader’s body.

All through these years, specialists and researchers
have regularly visited the Mausoleum to keep an eye on the body, cover the
face with a special preparation to prevent the decomposition of the tissues,
taking microscopic slices of skin for molecular studies and even bathing
the body in a special solution and changing the clothes.

The Centre used to be a top-security scientific organisation, but at the
beginning of the 1990s, the government funding ran out and the centre “entered
the commercial world.” A contract was signed with a funeral parlour for the
provision of all services to prepare dead bodies for burial, including long-term
embalming. The Institute which is in charge of keeping intact the body of
Lenin has offered its embalming techniques for sale to whoever might wish
to acquire them.

The institute has to its credit a number of prominent “clients” apart from
the famous Russian leader. These include famous communist leaders Ho Chi
Minh (North Vietnam), Klement Gotwald (Czechoslovakia), Agostino Neto (Angola).

The embalming principle applied by the Russian specialists does not turn
the dead body into a mummy, it soaks the body in a special solution that
does not change the appearance and tissues. The past decades have revealed
that the embalming method devised by Professors Vorobev and Zbarskiy has
no analogues in the world. Unfortunately, Itar-Tass has been
Home sweet homeunable to obtain a more detailed information as
Centre director Valeriy Bykov declines to be interviewed by journalists for
fear that his words can be “distorted or misquoted in some publications.”

Lenin’s boyhood home

All through the 1990s, debates have gone on in Russian society about the
possibility of re-burying the body of Lenin in keeping with Christian tradition.
However strange it may appear, these domestic debates about the possibility
of burying the body of Lenin have been closely watched in many countries,
particularly those in which the Soviet example was followed and the local
communist leaders were embalmed for the laying in state in eternity: Mao
Zedong in China, Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, Kim Il-song in North Korea. Any
public “encroachment” on the mummified marxists is regarded their with great
aversion, especially since decades after the body of Stalin was removed from
the mausoleum in Red Square, first Bulgaria (in 1990) and then Angola (in
1992) buried the mummies of their national leaders Georgiy Dimitrov and Agostino

It is indicative that both countries made their decisions in response to
pleas from the relatives of the deceased. In Vietnam, however, the politburo
of the of the Central Committee of the Communist party of Vietnam did not
fulfil Ho Chi Minh’s last will: he had asked to be cremated and his ashes
to be buried in three parts of the country. Russia, too, failed to fulfill
Vladimir Lenin’s last will: he had asked to be buried next to his mother’s
grave at St. Petersburg’s Volkovo cemetery.

Eyewitnesses have testified that every leader’s embalmed face had a serene
and majestic expression. Probably because the mummies of Lenin, Ho Chi Minh,
Czechoslovak leader Klement Gottwald, Kim Il- song and even Guyana’s leader
Forbes Barnhem were created by Moscow specialists from the Scientific and
technical centre of biological structures.

of the Centre’s leading specialists, Sergey Debov,admitted bitterly in his
time that his unique profession “will probably disappear soon because it
has no real future ahead.” Indeed, it was rooted in a belief that the communist
system was here for all eternity, but recent years have seen one state after
another reject it. But the words “eternity” and “eternal peace” are hardly
applicable to the body of Lenin which is expected twice every week and covered
with the embalming liquid and once every 18 months is soaked in a bath with

Whether Lenin’s body will ever be buried is a moot question. It is up to
the future generations of Russian people to decide at a time when debates
will no longer spark so many negative emotions capable of upsetting political
stability in the country.

Chairman of the Federation Council, or the upper house of Russian parliament,
Yegor Stroyev said, “History will objectively evaluate Lenin, one of the
greatest thinkers and revolutionaries.” He told Itar-Tass that “Accents and
emphasis in his historic role for Russia and the world will be put by the
generations that will come later.”

None of the world politicians has been pictured in such a great amount of
post stamps and other philatelist items as Vladimir Lenin who died 75 years
ago today. More than 1,000 post stamps,to say nothing about envelopes and
picture cards depicting the man, have been put into circulation to date in
nearly 20 countries of Europe, Asia, America and Africa, and their value
is seen as growing by collectors worldwide. The last Chinese miniature of
Lenin appeared on his birthday anniversary last year. The first post stamp
featuring Lenin appeared on the day of his burial in 1924. It was followed
by a picture card depicting Lenin in October of the same year. Both are now
collector’s items. Russian stopped printing post stamps, envelopes and picture
cards with Lenin’s image in 1992.