President Boris Yeltsin’s legal adviser, Mikhail Krasnov, has proposed closing the Lenin mausoleum to the public as a first step toward burying Lenin’s embalmed corpse. Speaking live on Ekho Moskvy radio yesterday, Krasnov called the mausoleum a symbol of a single-party state and said it does not belong in today’s pluralistic Russia. He said closing the tomb would "contribute to reconciliation in Russia." (Itar-Tass, BBC, June 16)
Krasnov’s is the latest in a series of efforts by the Yeltsin leadership to remove Lenin from Red Square. Yeltsin first proposed burying Lenin shortly after the collapse of the USSR in 1991, but the move was resisted by the hard-line Russian parliament, which had been elected in the Soviet period. Recently, Yeltsin has brought the subject up again. On June 11, he proposed a nationwide referendum on the issue. Today’s Russian Duma, still Communist-dominated, has also vowed to resist the move, but is in a weak position. The Duma seems to have taken seriously Yeltsin’s recent threats to dissolve it if it does not pass the government’s tax code, as well as its revised austerity budget and proposed cuts in housing and social subsidies. The Duma will be debating these issues this week, before breaking for its summer recess on June 24. (Reuter, June 16-17)
Though unwilling to approve the government’s proposals, parliament is expected to step back from the brink and avoid head-on confrontation in the interests of its own political survival. Parliamentarians are afraid of Yeltsin’s threat to call early elections. They have little doubt that a new parliament would be every bit as Communist-dominated as the present one, but suspect that the electorate would return a much tougher group of representatives to a new parliament. The Yeltsin leadership must also be aware of this probability; while it is happy to threaten to dissolve parliament, therefore, it is likely to do so only in extreme circumstances.
Organized Crime a Growing Problem for Russia.