Monday, January 21, 2013

сто сорок три Years Young

Vladimir Lenin, first leader of the Soviet Union, died 89 years ago today. And he still looks as good today as he did at his time of death. Thank you acetic acid, hydrogen peroxide, quinine and phenol. Lenin has been on display in a Moscow mausoleum ever since.

In the the early 1890's, Lenin abandoned his law career to devote himself to Marxist study. He established the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Worker's Party as a militant party of  revolutionaries who sought to overthrow the Czarist government and set up a Marxist government in its place.

During World War I, Lenin had the opportunity to do this. The Russian army garrison at Petrograd joined the Bolshevik cause after their disastrous involvement in the war and Czar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate. Lenin brought a communist revolution to Russia and six months later the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia and Lenin became the dictator of the country. The Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics aka USSR aka Soviet Union was then established in December 1922.

Lenin's success was fairly short lived, as he suffered a series of strokes almost a year later which left him mute, paralyzed and bedridden, ultimately leading to his death. After Lenin's death on January 21st 1924, plans were underway to build a tomb that would make his body accessible to mourners. The location of the mausoleum is located in Red Square by the Kremlin wall. The Russian government funded embalmers to continuously maintain him from his death up until the Soviet Union collapse, when private donations took over.

Support for Lenin's removal from Red Square and burial is gaining momentum as it has a reputation as a kitschy tourist attraction instead of the destination of pilgrimage, as was the case in Soviet times.  Until then, if you're feeling sentimental, you can visit him free of charge between 10am and 1pm on most weekdays. And in true Soviet fashion, there are a few rules: no video, no audio, no photography, no electronic items, no backpacks, no purses, no talking, no smoking, no keeping your hands in your pockets, no hats and it's probably best not to smile while you're at it. Definitely don't sneeze.

If you would like to cast your vote on whether or not Lenin should be buried, feel free to do it here. I did not, because I can't read a damn thing on that page and I don't want to accidently sign up for voluntary gulag duty.

And a Happy MLK day to all, and to all a goodnight. Watch MLK make a funny:

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