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Controversy still rages over Lenin's resting place

Lenin's body has been on display in the heart of Red Square in Moscow for three quarters of a century   

Communists dream of cloning embalmed leader

January 21, 1998
Web posted at: 1:46 p.m. EST (1846 GMT)

From Correspondent Steve Harrigan

MOSCOW (CNN) -- On the anniversary of his death, Vladimir Lenin still lies where he has for more than 70 years, in Red Square in the heart of Moscow. Outside the mausoleum, however, controversy still rages about where the Communist leader belongs.

"No one is going to come in here and put their dirty hands on this mausoleum, one of the greatest achievements in all civilization," said Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov.

But some government reformers view the preserved corpse as the source of all Russia's problems.

"I feel something mystical about it," said First Vice Premier Boris Nemtsov. "Unless we bury Lenin, Russia will remain under an evil spell."

Even Russian President Boris Yeltsin has called for Lenin's burial in a cemetery in St. Petersburg. But so far, the threat of confrontation with outraged Communists has kept anyone from acting.

While politicians battle over what to do with Lenin's body, the Russian czar's legacy of Marxism is being diluted by the reality of modern day Russian society.

With few visitors and little government support, the Lenin Funeral Train Museum has turned to capitalism. Part of the museum is now an auto salon, selling Mercedes-Benzes to wealthy Russians.

Lenin's home
Once a popular tourist attraction, today Lenin's home draws few visitors   

And Lenin's home outside Moscow, which once drew more than half a million Russians a year, is visited on a recent day by only a few local schoolchildren and their teacher.

"I can still remember coming here as a child, how excited we were, what a great holiday it was. Now, of course, that's all gone. It's a pity," the teacher said.

There may be hope, however.

Officials of what is left of Russia's Young Communist Union, are holding out for the prospect of cloning the revered leader.

As the world's most prominently embalmed man, Lenin's remains provide the necessary gene pool for reproduction.

But even Darya Mitina, a member of the Communist faction of Russia's lower house of parliament, conceded that a cloned Lenin just wouldn't be the same as the original.

"There will be no second Lenin," she said. "It's impossible to recreate everything -- to repeat the history of 1917. We can't recreate the social conditions of the time."


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