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Wednesday, August 4, 1999 Published at 20:02 GMT 21:02 UK

World: Europe

Lenin to be buried

Visitors have been queuing up as burial rumours have spread

The mummified remains of the Bolshevik leader Vladimir Ilyich Lenin will "definitely" be removed from its mausoleum in Red Square.

The statement was made by President Yeltsin's chief of staff, Alexander Voloshin, in a newspaper interview.

The senior Kremlin aide was echoing a similar statement made recently by President Yeltsin, who said it was "just a question of when" the remains would be buried.

Andrew Harding reports: "He is Russia's most famous corpse"
But Mr Voloshin would not be drawn on when the body might be removed from the building where it has lain for more than 75 years. "Let me remain meaningfully silent," he told the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.

The embalmed body of Lenin, who died in 1924, seven years after leading the 1917 revolution, has been on display in Red Square since shortly after his death.


[ image:  ]
It has become the central symbol in the struggle between Yeltsin and the Russian Communist Party, which still regards Lenin as something akin to a secular saint.

The BBC's Moscow Correspondent, Andrew Harding, says the Kremlin knows full well that any mention of burying Lenin will infuriate Russian communists. According to one popular theory, he says, the president is hoping to provoke a showdown with opposition forces in the run up to this December's parliamentary elections.

Although Mr Voloshin said in his interview that the burial would not cause a public protest observers expect that it would bring large numbers of communist supporters onto the streets, and split the anti-Yeltsin coalitions emerging between centrist nationalist parties in the Duma, the lower house of parliament.

Long queues of visitors from all over the former Soviet Union have built up to view the body, as rumours have spread that it is about to be removed.

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