Russia to Renovate Lenin's Mausoleum

The mausoleum for Russia's revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin must undergo major repair work after its foundation suffered water damage, the Kremlin said Monday.

The communist icon's body will also undergo preservation work, a move that adds fuel to a debate in Russia about whether his remains should be buried.

The Lenin Mausoleum, a boxy structure standing just outside the Kremlin walls on Red Square, has not seen any major works for 80 years, said Sergei Devyatov, a representative of the Kremlin's secret service, which is responsible for the building.

The mausoleum's foundation is starting to tilt and has become water-damaged. Works to eliminate the problem will take until April, he said.

"We have also scheduled works to maintain Lenin's body," Devyatov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

The body will not be moved during the works, he said.

A team of scientists periodically restores Lenin's body, when it is given a new suit and various preservation treatments.

Debates on whether to remove the body from the mausoleum constructed in 1924, when Lenin died at age 53, started after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Though the mausoleum is a tourist attraction, increasing numbers of Russians are calling for Lenin to be buried. Russia's Communist party vehemently opposes the idea.

In the latest big debate on the issue last year, the ruling party United Russia launched a campaign for Lenin's burial, however the discussion was quickly shelved.

At that time, 56 percent of Russians said it would be better to bury Lenin, while 31 percent said his body should be left alone, a Levada poll said.

President Vladimir Putin earlier this month said the body reflects Russian tradition, even controversially comparing it to the ancient Orthodox relics of saints displayed in famous monasteries in Russia, Ukraine, and Greece.

"The Communists have taken on the tradition," he said at the time. "They did this with knowledge and considering the needs of their time."

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