The exquisitely taxidermied corpse of Russia’s communist revolutionary turns 146 next week. Just this January, two Russian deputies urged to “end the outrage” and “inhumanity” and bury Lenin already, the “Christian” way, but Putin didn’t want to “divide society.” And so, the sarcophagus is to remain above ground, on display in the Red Square mausoleum.
The “quasibiological” means of keeping Lenin’s mummy presentable are fancy and expensive. Between the 1950's and the 1980's, a team of 200 biochemists, surgeons, anatomists, and researchers worked on preserving “the look, feel and flexibility of Lenin’s body.” But government funding was pulled after the collapse of the Soviet Union and private donations to a special fond kept the project kind of alive.
Lenin is not the man he used to be. His nose is a sculpture, his ears are wax, and the ever-rotting and disappearing skin bits need to be recreated with plastics, constantly. There are microinjections of embalming fluid to microinject. Skin-discoloring fungus and mold are still lovingly dabbed away with mild bleach, and every 18 months, he goes for a long dip in chemicals. He’s a busy body.
There were also some trouble makers last year arrested for spilling “holy water” on the mausoleum walls and waving an “ARISE AND LEAVE” banner. One Russian deputy proposed organizing a special “red tourism” program for Chinese citizens. But generally, Lenin is not as popular as he once was. People still visit, but the lines aren’t that long.