So you think you got troubles?

April 22, 2009




Sandra Dennis, the actress, once told me about an embarrassing moment she had when she stopped in to see how Valdimir Lenin was making out in his tomb in Red Square. Well, it would have been embarrassing if it had happened to anyone else. I’m not sure – considering the glee with which she described it – that Sandra didn’t enjoy it. She was with another actress, touring what was then the Soviet Union, when they made the obligatory stop at Lenin’s place of repose. As they descended to the crypt, Sandra said, the temperature got colder and colder, giving them a sense of formality and sobriety. That feeling ended abruptly, she said, when they first caught sight of Lenin’s body in its crystal coffin. “All I could think of was Snow White,” she told me, “and I burst out laughing. It was bad enough, but the sound was echoing all through the tomb.” Somehow, I would have expected nothing else from Sandra, who was a lot like many of the quirky characters she played on the screen.
Well, Sandra might have appreciated the following story that appeared in Pravda this week, pointing out just how tough times are:
THE BODY OF VLADIMIR LENIN, the leader of the Great October Revolution, will be left without a new suit this year due to the economic problems in Russia . Lenin’s clothes have not been changed after two months of prophylactic measures, although there is a strong need to have the mummy displayed in new clothes, The Trud newspaper wrote.  



Lenin has been wearing the army type jacket for 17 years as his mummified body was resting in the Mausoleum on Red Square . His clothes need to be changed once in three years. Most recent change of Lenin’s suit took place in 2003.

The funding is hardly enough for embalming activities, specialists of Lenin’s Tomb complain. “The state has not been assigning anything since 1992. We live at the expense of the Lenin’s Tomb Fund. Then there is this crisis going on,” an embalmer said.


Lenin’s body is dressed in expensive custom-made suits made of Swiss lustrine – the fabric, which Vladimir Lenin preferred when he was alive. The suit has a modern cut, which is still popular nowadays in men’s fashion. If specialists do not change the suit during the prophylactic works, they steam-clean and press it thoroughly: a slight speck of dirt can ruin the embalming effect.


Lenin’s mummy has been exposed to biochemical treatment this year. It was placed in the bathtub filled with the solution of herbs that produce the embalming effect. “This is a unique technology. It will help the body keep up its shape for some 100 years,” an embalmer said.


Lenin’s Tomb opened its doors for the general public again on April 18. Russia will mark the 139th anniversary of Lenin’s birthday on April 22. A visitor is first shown to the check point in the Tomb, where they will have to leave photo and video cameras, cell phones, large metal items and any types of drinks. Visitors are not allowed to either eat or drink during the viewing. Men are supposed to remove hats. It is not allowed to keep one’s hands in their pockets during the viewing either. 



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