Putin has been more circumspect about the matter. But Medinsky seems serious. According to him,
Maybe, indeed, many things in our life would symbolically change for the better after this.
Whatever his motives, I think Medinsky is right. In fact, Lenin
should have been buried a long time ago. It was Stalin who cooked up
Lenin's burial as a way of legitimizing his own nasty rule. It was also
Stalin who may have poisoned the old boy,
hastening his own bloody, dictatorial rule. But it was Lenin who, of
course, made Stalin possible, which is different than saying his rule
was inevitable. Medinsky wants to turn the mausoleum into a museum. It
would be a pity if it were to glorify Lenin, the inventor of the Russian
concentration camp and a murderous killer in his own right. Truth to
tell, Lenin deserves the kind of burial that Osama Bin Laden received.
Both men were terrorists, but one managed, thanks to World War I and a
hapless tsar, to shoot his way into power, including murdering the
defenseless royal family. Lenin, a sanctimonious windbag, began the
destruction of Russian society, a job that Stalin completed. It has yet
to recover from their depredations. A museum could begin the process of
telling the truth about this thug.
An online poll indicates that
many Russians also believe that Lenin should be removed from Red
Square. As Medinsky has noted, Lenin and his relatives were never keen
on the idea of public displays. The pharaonic element in Bolshevism was
introduced by Stalin. Walter Rodgers, writing in the Christian Science Monitor, has warned against removing Lenin's corpse. In his view,
Interring Lenin beside his mother in St. Petersburg may paper over, but will not expunge, the bloody Bolshevik past. Shakespeare
reminds us that "the evil men do lives after them." Modern Russia would
dishonor communism's victims if Lenin's corpse is smuggled out of town
on a moonless night.
But it's also possible that an interment might prompt Russians to
confront his sanguinary legacy, to reexamine his misdeeds, to recognize
that his actions continue to shape modern Russia in profoundly
destructive ways. Lenin's burial need not be an occasion for burying the
past. In removing Lenin from Red Square, Russia would be saying that he
no longer serves as a father figure. It could come one step closer to
confronting its past honestly. So far, Putin has seemed disinclined to
face up to it. The issue of his interment might offer him a different
route to follow, one that could set a different tone for modern Russia.
This article originally appeared at The National Interest, an Atlantic partner site. Follow @TheNatlInterest on Twitter.