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EFE - Moscow's Lenin mausoleum closes for maintenance work on Soviet leader's mummy




Moscow, Feb 18 (EFE).- The mausoleum in honor of Russian thinker and revolutionary Vladimir Lenin that has drawn in tourists and nostalgics for almost a century at Moscow's iconic Red Square temporarily closed on Monday to allow routine maintenance work to be performed on the Soviet leader's embalmed corpse.
Russia's Federal Guard Service (FSO) – the agency tasked with protecting high-ranking state officials – said in a statement that the closure would last two months.
"Due to planned preventive measures to ensure the preservation of Lenin's body, the mausoleum will remain closed to the public from February 18 until April 16, 2019," read the FSO's statement.
Every two years, experts from the team informally known as the "Lenin Lab" apply a cocktail of chemical substances to re-embalm the corpse and keep it fit for viewing by the legions of visitors to the mausoleum.
This recipe of routinely sprucing up the stiff, added to tightly-controlled environmental conditions such as temperature and lighting, supposedly enables the mummy's preservation for an indefinite amount of time.
The mausoleum has been a site of pilgrimage ever since Lenin's death in 1924, even after the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics – which he helped found – almost three decades ago.
Although the sepulcher averages some 2.5 million annual visitors – making it one of the top tourist attractions in the country – the number has been steadily declining in recent years, and some voices in Russian politics have called to bury the Bolshevik leader's remains once and for all.
The Russian Orthodox Church has said that removing Lenin from the glass casket he is displayed in and interring him is inevitable, but has warned that such a decision needs to have social consensus behind it.
Polls have shown that Russians are roughly evenly split on the question of whether to consign his remains to a definitive grave or continue to exhibit them.
Even among those in favor of removing the mummy, many believe that it should be done at a later date, since there are still multiple people for whom the headman of the 1917 October Revolution remains a beloved figure.
The mausoleum is usually open to visitors on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 am to 1 pm.
Lenin – whose real name was Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov – was born in 1870 to a middle-class family in what was then Simbirsk, a city now known as Ulyanovsk in honor of its most famous son.
After becoming radicalized while in college – and following the execution of his older brother Aleksandr in 1887 for conspiring to assassinate the Tsar – Lenin adopted the "nom de guerre" for which he is known in every history book and became active in the Russian Empire's Marxist underground before being exiled in Siberia for his subversive activities.
In 1900, Lenin fled to Western Europe, where he published what was arguably his most influential pamphlet, "What Is To Be Done? Burning Questions of Our Movement," which laid out his vision of a "vanguard" party of dedicated revolutionaries tasked with agitating the working class.
Over the next decade, he became one of the leading intellectuals of the international Communist movement, and his political theories were so transcendent that the current known as Marxism-Leninism continues to enjoy significant support among the contemporary radical left.
In 1917, Lenin returned from Finland to Petrograd (present-day St Petersburg, the imperial capital at the time) and spearheaded the overthrow of the provisional government of Premier Alexander Kerensky through the armed takeover of the Winter Palace.
He was soon elevated to Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars in the newly-formed Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, making him the most powerful man of the largest nation on earth.
The new Lenin-led government signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany on Mar. 3, 1918, effectively ending Russia's involvement in the war.
His time in power, however, was marked by a brutal civil war that lasted five years and devastated the country, as millions were killed in the conflict between the Red Army and the Whites (a loose alliance of anti-communists whose main goal was to restore the Romanov dynasty on the throne).
Both factions harshly repressed citizens for political reasons and carried out massacres during the war, with the Cheka – the Bolshevik-controlled secret police – enforcing what historians have dubbed the "Red Terror," in which at least 100,000 people were executed.
In 1921, Lenin fell seriously ill and began to withdraw from government affairs. In May 1922, he suffered the first of several strokes, which left him almost completely incapacitated.
In Mar. 1923, another stroke left Lenin without the ability to speak, partially paralyzed and with signs of sensory aphasia; that is, unable to understand language in its spoken or written form.
He passed away at his home in Gorki on Jan. 22, 1924, after falling into a coma the day before.
Against the protestations of his widow, Nadezhda Krupskaya, Lenin's body was mummified for long-term display at a newly-erected mausoleum.
His brain was preserved in formaldehyde to allow scientists to find the source of his "genius" (a budding cult of personality had already formed around the charismatic politician, and the Soviet state went to great lengths to reaffirm it).
The slogan "Lenin lived, Lenin lives and Lenin will live" became a favorite among his successors.
Oskar Vogt, an eccentric German neurologist, was invited in 1926 to study the illustrious noggin; he later set up the Moscow Brain Institute, which to this day houses some cross-sections of Lenin's brain under heavy security measures.
Most unbiased experts today agree that – based on the thorough research conducted by Vogt and others – Lenin's brain was, from a physiognomic perspective, quite average.
Lenin's mummy has been showcased at the same spot for 95 years, with the exception of 1,360 days during World War II, when it was shipped to Tyumen (Siberia) in light of the German forces' advance on Moscow.
President Vladimir Putin has publicly argued that his namesake should remain in the mausoleum until a clear majority of the Russian population demands otherwise, in order to avoid a "schism" in the Eurasian country.

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EFE-EPA Multimedia Desk, Madrid
+34 913 467 493

Agency : EFE

Date : 2019-02-19 09:31:09







 

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