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Russian Communists mark Lenin's birthday with low-key events

Russian Communists will mark the 139th anniversary of Vladimir Lenin's birth on Wednesday with low-key events on Moscow's Red Square and across Russia.
MOSCOW, April 22 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Communists will mark the 139th anniversary of Vladimir Lenin's birth on Wednesday with low-key events on Moscow's Red Square and across Russia.

Flowers will be laid at Lenin's Mausoleum and there will be ceremonies in honor of the founder of the Soviet Union across Russia, including in his birthplace of Ulyanovsk, but major events will wait until next year's 140th anniversary.

"In Moscow we will hold only a mass placing of flowers at the Mausoleum. Other large-scale events are not planned, but regional chapters will hold Lenin readings, meetings and roundtables in memory of the great man," Russian Communist Party secretary Valery Rashkin told RIA Novosti.

Lenin retains some support but is a controversial figure in Russian history, with the exhibition of his corpse in a mausoleum on Red Square particularly contentious.

Although an opinion poll in November of last year saw only 42% of respondents claim they were "positive" about the father of the Bolshevik Revolution - eight points down on 2005 - he was still the second-most-popular figure after Nicholas II, the last tsar.

In January 2009, an opinion poll taken on the eve of the anniversary of his death found that two thirds of Russians thought Lenin should be buried, with 41% describing the continuing public display of his body as unnatural.

The Mausoleum reopened on Sunday after two months' of maintenance works.

The Russian Orthodox Church reiterated on Tuesday its view that Lenin should be buried.

"The present position of Lenin's body, exhibited for public display, contradicts our cultural tradition. It has in fact become a tourist object," said Archbishop Vsevolod Chaplin, the head of the Synod department on interaction between the church and society.

Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov said on the eve of the anniversary that global events meant it was important for Lenin to retain his position in the public eye.

"In the world there are very powerful forces that do not allow Lenin to rest, even lying in the mausoleum, because he defended the ideals of freedom, equality, brotherhood, and respect for the worker," Zyganov told journalists. "Lenin said that imperialism is evil. He asserted that the speculative financial system would sooner or later collapse and become bankrupt, and the capitalist division of the world would lead to the new wars."

For now, the Communists seem to be winning the battle over Lenin's resting place.

Following mass rallies in response to the vandalism of a Lenin statue in St. Petersburg on April 1, a senior Kremlin official said that there was no need no move the Bolshevik leader from the Mausoleum, and that any attempt to do so could have serious consequences.

"The recent blast at the Lenin statue in St. Petersburg led, as you know, to protests. Just imagine for a minute what would happen if we were to try to move Lenin's body," Vladimir Kozhin, head of the Kremlin property management department, told the Tribuna paper.

The 10-meter high bronze figure in St. Petersburg was badly damaged by an explosion that ripped a large hole in the rear of the statue, which has been removed for repair work.

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