Tuesday, January 23, 2024
Year : 2, Issue : 4
A few dozen communists gathered at Red Square in Moscow on Sunday to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the 1917 Russian Revolution and creator of the Soviet Union.
Gennady Zyuganov, the head of Russia’s Communist Party, led those paying their respects to “the first person ever to found a socialist state.”
Lenin tried to “build a just world with brotherhood among nations — without capitalism,” said Zyuganov.
Many waved flags, held posters, laid wreathes and brought flowers to the mausoleum in one of the last public rituals observing Lenin’s role in Russian history.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has routinely exhibited a harsh public disdain for Lenin but nevertheless deferred from removing the revolutionary leader’s body from the mausoleum to be buried, did not attend the gathering, nor did he comment upon the occasion.
President Putin, who gravitates toward the historical symbolism of Tsarist Russia, has accused Lenin of committing grave historical errors. Foremost among those, creating fault lines that Putin has called “a time bomb” in a once unified Russian Empire.
A friend to the downtrodden or a ruthless despot?
Lenin, born Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (1870-1924), was embalmed and enshrined in a specially constructed mausoleum shortly after his death at age 53 on January 21, 1924.
Lenin’s anti-imperialist posture and his success in creating a socialist state made the former Soviet Union a great friend of those nations who sought to become independent from colonial powers or those seeking a different model from the capitalist West.
This was especially true during the Cold War and after Soviet leader Josef Stalin died in 1953. Russia, like China, paints itself as a partner to those nations who seek to rid themselves of the yoke of colonialism and imperialism today, most notably in Africa and South America.
Lenin has overwhelmingly been seen in the West as an imaginative builder of an alternative to the capitalist model but one who ruled with an iron fist, persecuting dissent in the most violent and fear-inducing manner.