Lenin, in post-communist Russia

This post is part of my Russia travel series: Travel stories | Photo gallery

Communism might be a thing of the past, but the presence of Lenin still lingers.

Lenin mosaic, Sochi

I associated the breakdown of communism with removal of Lenin’s statues from public spaces of eastern Europe. On my trip to Russia, I was pleasantly surprised to see a number of statues of Mr. Vladimir Lenin (or Nikolai Lenin) on streets, parks and squares. Granted, their numbers might have decreased, and Lenin’s reverence among the post-modern generation might have declined, but you still get a feeling that someone is watching you all the time.

Lenin was the founder and the first head of state of USSR. He tweaked the Marxist communist theories to suit the predominantly agrarian Russian economy and lead a revolutionary movement against the Tsarist monarchy in the country. It is very interesting to read the history – Russian Revolution of 1905.

Lenin’s Mausoleum, Red Square, Moscow

Today he rests in a mausoleum at the Red Square, in the heart of Moscow, his body fully preserved. When he died in 1924, the line of mourners wanting to offer respects to his dead body was so huge, that Stalin, Lenin’s successor, decided to preserve Lenin body as a holy relic. Lenin’s brain was removed for scientific studies (of the perfect communist brain), his face was bleached, eyes and lips were sewn tight and his body was finally sent for preservation. The preservation technique is still a state secret.

Lenin has been resting here since 1924 (except a retreat to Siberia during WW II). From 1953-1961, he shared his tomb with Stalin, but then a well-known Bolshevik lady narrated, to the Soviet Party congress, her dream in which Lenin expressed to her his unwillingness to rest next to his ‘evil’ successor. Many believe this ‘dream narration’ was planned by the leaders. Stalin was promptly removed and buried among other (minor) leaders of the Soviet state.

The mausoleum is open for public visits from 10:00 to 13:00 except on Monday and Friday. Visitors must deposit their baggage at the left-luggage office in the State History Museum on the Red Square. Young soldiers posted every few meters will prompt you to keep walking and their serious, humorless faces will make sure that you don’t indulge in a non-serious behavior. Photography is not permitted inside. Leninโ€™s body can be seen enclosed in a glass case and brightly illuminated. His face looks kinda pale, shiny and waxy, but very similar to his statues and pictures. You may stand here for a couple of seconds, but youโ€™ll be nudged to move on by guards who look like ghosts โ€“ since they are completely covered in dark army uniforms except for their faces which look bright and pale in the dim light emerging from Lenin’s casket.

Salutes to Lenin, one of the great leaders the world had.

This post is part of my Russia travel series: Travel stories | Photo gallery