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Fr. Georgy Kochetkov: People Need to be Prepared for the Removal of Lenin’s Body from Red Square

The removal of Lenin’s body from Red Square would be a timely act, to mark 100 years since the Revolution, though the ROC, the government and others in positions of authority would have to take appropriate steps to prepare society, said St. Philaret’s Rector, Fr. Georgy Kochetkov, commenting on ROCOR’s call to remove the body of the Bolshevik leader from the capital’s main square, in connection with the 100th anniversary of the Revolution.
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A special message from the ROCOR Council of Bishops has been read out in all ROCOR parishes. “I support the idea itself, though ROCOR are not the first to have thought of it – in fact, the idea has already been around for 100 years, because people understand perfectly well the significance of the Soviet era,” said Fr. Georgy.

To the question of whether the removal of the body is timely at this point, the SFI Rector remarked, “the sooner it happens, the better,” though it is necessary to explain to people the importance and necessity of this step. “There will always be people who are against this, because we don’t have a unified society or a unified context for living. But exactly something of this nature is necessary to help bring that context about, so it is necessary to act,” he said.

“But it is also necessary to explain things to the people, working through the media and Internet. The Church and her leadership, government officials and others in authority need to present things and prepare at least those who trust them. Only after that will it be possible to remove Lenin’s body,” Fr. Georgy believes.

In his words, it would be particularly timely to do this in 2017. “This is the year – 100 years since the Revolution – and it would be remarkable, in my opinion. And afterwards, return the monument to Minin and Pozharsky to the site – it would be wonderful. After everything was shifted, nothing made sense any more and the spiritual context for life was lost. We should restore at least that which remains,” the SFI Rector believes.

Speaking about those who wish to offer prayers for Lenin and other revolutionary leaders, Fr. Georgy said, “those who wish to pray for these unfortunate revolutionaries, who were, of course, oppressed by the powers of evil – to those who have the necessary spiritual strength and bravery, I say let them pray silently, in their hearts. I would not forbid them from offering prayers for the revolutionaries, although they were godless people, and according to the church canon it is impossible to commemorate them,” he added.

“There are an enormous number of innocent victims on the consciences of revolutionaries like Lenin, Trotsky, Sverdlov, etc., who are, at present, lying in Red Square. So to think that they should be given a place of respect and honour is perfectly impossible,” Fr. Georgy emphasized.

The Mausoleum, into which the preserved body of the Bolshevik leader was placed, appeared on Red Square after Lenin’s death in 1924. According to various calculations, Mausoleum upkeep costs the Russian government up to two million dollars a year. 2016 estimates for “keeping the appearance of the body lifelike” were 13 million rubles. The “mausoleum group” which works directly on Lenin’s body includes scholars from the All-Russia Scientific Research Institute for Medicinal and Aromatic Plants. In the 60’s and 70’s, up to 200 people were working at the institute itself, though as of 2017 this figure has dropped to around 40.