Bury Lenin's body, says Gorbachev

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The embalmed body of the Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin should be moved from its mausoleum in Red Square and given a standard burial, the former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev said yesterday.

Lenin's body has been on public display in a glass case since his death in 1924. His continuing presence in the symbolic heart of Moscow has been a source of controversy since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Lenin led the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution to found the first Communist state, which lasted for 74 years until Mr Gorbachev presided over the break-up of the USSR. Mr Gorbachev, 77, said: "My view is [that] we should not be occupied right now with grave-digging. But we will necessarily come to a time when the mausoleum will have lost its meaning and we will bury [Lenin], give him up to the earth as his family had wanted. I think the time will come."

The fate of Lenin is an emotional question in modern Russia, where the Communists are the second-biggest political party. The Orthodox Church has called for the former leader to be buried but the Communists says the father of the Soviet Union should stay put.

The first post-Soviet leader, Boris Yeltsin, spoke in favour of removing the mausoleum but strong pro-Communist sentiment prevented him from doing so. In the end, he avoided taking a decision. Vladimir Putin also fudged the issue, saying it was emotive and hard to tackle. His successor, President Dmitry Medvedev, has not yet made his position clear.

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