Bodies are political—in life and in death. The decades-long dispute over Vladimir Lenin’s stiff corpse is evidence of that. Most recently, a human rights group advising the Kremlin urged President Dmitry Medvedev to finally decide the fate of the Bolshevik revolutionary’s cadaver, which has been on display in a Red Square mausoleum since his death in 1924. A decision about the remains, the group said, would help with the process of reconciliation over a dark period in Russia’s history—mass famine, gulags, genocide and all. Russians seem to agree. According to a January poll, about two-thirds of those surveyed felt that Lenin should leave Red Square.
But leaders have been sitting on a decision about the burial since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The first post-Soviet president, Boris Yeltsin, said Lenin’s remains would be “definitely removed” to signal the end of the Communist era. Strong pro-Communist dissenters delayed the move. Others have argued that closing Lenin’s shrine would be akin to editing out an unsavoury chapter of Russia’s history. But with an election looming, this political body may finally find a new home.