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Putin under fire for comparing Lenin’s corpse to holy relics

By Kay Steiger
Tuesday, December 11, 2012 12:22 EDT
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The embalmed body of Russian Bolshevik revolutionary leader and Soviet Union founder Vladimir Ilyich Lenin lies in the mausoleum bearing his name in Moscow's Red Square in 1991. (AFP)
 
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Russia President Vladimir Putin came under criticism from rights activists on Tuesday after he compared Vladimir Lenin’s embalmed corpse to the holy relics of Christian saints.

In a Monday speech before a group of supporters, Putin spoke against the idea of removing Lenin’s mausoleum from Red Square in Moscow where his corpse is housed.

“Many say the mausoleum contradicts traditions. What contradicts traditions? Go to the Kiev Caves Monastery (in Ukraine) or look at (Russia’s) Pskov monastery or Mount Athos (in Greece). There are relics of saints there. You can see everything there,” Putin said.

The remarks provoked sharp criticism by rights activists and NGOs such as Memorial, which works on the preservation of the memory of the victims of Soviet repressions.

“It is an absolutely baseless comparison,” said Memorial board member Yan Rachinsky.

“If someone needs these relics, one could build a special ‘communist church’ somewhere,” he said.

Debates on whether to remove Lenin’s body from the mausoleum constructed in Red Square in 1924 started after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Kay Steiger
Kay Steiger
Kay Steiger is the managing editor of Raw Story. Her contributions have appeared in The American Prospect, The Atlantic, Campus Progress, The Guardian, In These Times, Jezebel, Religion Dispatches, RH Reality Check, and others. You can follow her on Twitter @kaysteiger.
 
 
 
 
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