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In a Flesh: Russian Scientists Work to Preserve Lenin’s Corpse

He lies in a potion sarcophagus. His eyes are closed, reddish brave and mustache trimmed, and his hands rest quietly on his thighs. Dressed in an stern black suit, Vladimir Lenin, the first Soviet leader, looks, on first impressions, to be sleeping. His picture is so realistic that it mostly scares children. Many adults assume it is a waxwork, rather than the actual physique of someone who died 92 years ago.

And yet, it is Lenin’s body, at least in part. If delicately monitored, nurtured and re-embalmed regularly, scientists trust it can final for centuries. During Soviet times, an extensive infrastructure was grown to ensure this happened.

The public might be divided over such a prospect, yet for the time being the authorities seem committed to Lenin’s caring and keeping. Last month, the Federal Guard Service — domain circuitously the Kremlin, including the mausoleum, falls into their jurisdiction — announced a tender for “medical and biological works to maintain Lenin’s body” in 2016. The sum advertised was 13 million rubles ($197,000).

Despite frozen temperatures, tens of thousands of mourners attended Lenin’s wake on Red Square, Jan. 27, 1924.

Life and Death

When Lenin died in January 1924, no one designed to preserve his physique for this long. A renowned pathologist Alexei Abrikosov achieved the usual autopsy on the body, and, among other things, cut the vital arteries. “Later he would contend that if he had famous they would embalm the body, he wouldn’t have finished it,” says Alexei Yurchak, highbrow of social anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley. “The blood-vascular complement could have been used to deliver embalming chemicals to the tissue.”

After the autopsy, Lenin’s physique was temporarily embalmed to prevent it from immediately decomposing, so that it could be put on display to give people a chance to pay their respects to the dear Soviet leader. It was expected Lenin would afterwards be buried on Red Square.

For four days, the corpse was kept in an open box at the Union House (Dom Soyuzov) in the core of Moscow. People from all over the Soviet Union lined adult to say their final goodbyes. Crowds of 50,000 people upheld by the hall where the casket was placed. It was unusually cold outside, and, even inside, the temperature was reduction 7 degrees Celsius. Contemporary accounts remember bonfires kept blazing circuitously to prevent visitors from freezing.

Despite the cold, some-more and more people, including unfamiliar delegations, wanted to pay their respects to the defunct leader. So 4 days after Lenin’s death, the government altered the casket to a proxy wooden monolith on Red Square and made it accessible for visitors. The corpse was kept cold and had not started to rot.

It was 56 days after Lenin’s genocide that Soviet officials motionless to preserve the body.

The first thought didn’t engage embalming, yet low frozen the body. Leonid Krasin, the international trade apportion at the time, was postulated accede to acquire special frozen apparatus in Germany. Yet in early Mar 1924, when preparations for freezing were gaining momentum, dual apparent chemists Vladimir Vorobyov and Boris Zbarsky suggested embalming the body. They due regulating a chemical reduction that would forestall the corpse from decomposing, drying adult and changing tone and shape. Zbarsky argued that frozen was not the best option — decomposing would still continue even in low temperatures, he said.

At first, Vorobyov was demure to take partial in the project. He was out of the comrade government’s good graces and was fearful to fail such a high-profile assignment and face retribution. However, he was one of the best in the margin and had already successfully recorded several bodies regulating embalming techniques.

Eventually, after a series of government meetings and inspections of the body, the decision was done to give embalming a try. It was already late March — the weather was improving, temperatures were rising, and waiting longer could have caused permanent repairs to the body.

The corpse had, in fact, already suffered repairs by that point. Dark spots had begun to appear on the skin, including Lenin’s face, and his eye sockets were deformed. So, for several months, scientists set about whitening the skin and calculating the correct chemical reduction for successful embalming. Under the pressure of reporting to Soviet officials, they worked day and night.

On Aug. 1, 1924 the mausoleum on Red Square finally non-stop for visitors. “Amazing! It’s an absolute victory,” Zbarsky was reported as saying.

View over Red Square and Lenin’s tomb, Sep 1941. The permanent slab monolith was finished in 1933.

The Lenin Lab

From then on, a group of scientists has been tasked with progressing the body. At the rise of its activity during Soviet times, the “Lenin lab” had around 200 specialists operative on the project, according to Yurchak.

Today, the group is a dozen times smaller, yet the work has frequency changed. Every few days scientists revisit the mausoleum to check on the body, where it is recorded underneath delicately distributed heat and lighting. And every 18 months the body is re-embalmed in a special trickery located underneath the mausoleum. Here, scientists carefully rinse the body, douse it in embalming liquids and inject it with the necessary chemicals.

Scientists managed to safety Lenin’s skeleton, muscles, skin and other tissues, yet all inner viscera have been removed, including the brain. Lenin’s mind was meticulously examined by the Soviet “Brain Institute,” combined not prolonged after Lenin died with the specific purpose of studying his “extraordinary abilities.” Pieces of Lenin’s mind are still recorded in the institute, that now forms partial of the Neurology Center at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

In addition to ensuring the body looks natural, scientists today also keep the joints working, ensure the condition of the skin, and sometimes reinstate shop-worn hankie with synthetic material. Experimental treatments and new chemicals are customarily tested on so-called “experimental objects” — unclear embalmed bodies that are kept in the lab — in order not to accidentally repairs Lenin.

The unique technique grown by Soviet scientists has resulted in several “customers” from abroad. Besides Lenin, the lab in Moscow also embalmed and preserved, among others, Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh, Bulgarian personality Georgi Dimitrov, North Korean leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. Not to mention Soviet tyrant Josef Stalin, whose embalmed physique lay alongside Lenin from 1953 to 1961.

The embalming routine was carried out in complete secrecy, with scientists from the lab, spasmodic drifting to Vietnam or North Korea to provide maintenance, demure to share information with their unfamiliar colleagues. “Junior specialists — like we was at the time — weren’t told any of the specifics,” Vadim Milov, an embalmer who worked in the lab from 1987 to 1997, told The Moscow Times. “And nonetheless we had adequate information to travel to Vietnam to work on Ho Chi Minh’s body.”

Attempts by The Moscow Times to interview someone now reserved to the lab were unsuccessful. After several created requests to provide comments, Nikolai Sidelnikov, executive of the All-Russia Institute of Aromatic and Medicinal Plants, refused to provide entrance to the lab, observant it was “subject to commercial and state secrets.”

Yurchak, who has been study Lenin’s physique for years and has interviewed scientists of the lab, says such privacy hasn’t always been the case. “They gave copiousness of interviews in the 1990s, one Russian radio channel even filmed a detailed documentary featuring the facilities underneath the mausoleum. But the new government of the lab doesn’t wish reporters to turn their work into a joke, that they mostly do,” the anthropologist said. It is utterly expected that authorities have imposed a ban on talking to the media, he added.

Still from the documentary “Woeful Jan of 1924.” comrade insubordinate Mikhail Kalinin stands in honor ensure circuitously Lenin’s tomb. Kalinin was an ally of Stalin during the power onslaught that followed Lenin’s death.

Post-Soviet Lenin

Lenin’s lab strike tough times after the Soviet Union collapsed. In 1991 many of Russia’s new approved rulers called for the dispersion of the mausoleum, and for Lenin to be buried elsewhere. This caused a big protest, recalls Yevgeny Dorovin, State Duma emissary from the Communist Party and chair of an NGO ancillary preserving the mausoleum in its stream state. “A lot of people went to Red Square to protest this blasphemy,” he says. “Fortunately, the commandant of the Kremlin castle eventually came out and calmed everybody down, and told them that the mausoleum is safe.”

But the government pulled the plug on the project’s funding, once again putting the future of the monolith underneath question. The Communist Party responded by collecting donations to support the mausoleum and the scientists who worked on maintaining Lenin’s body. “We paid for everything solely gas, H2O and electricity,” Dorovin said, yet he refused to specify how most income the foundation lifted and spent. The state usually began appropriation the mausoleum again a couple years ago, he added.

The Federal Guard Service told The Moscow Times “it was impossible” to reveal how most had been allocated to preserving Lenin and the mausoleum. They also refused to specify at what time they became obliged for the mausoleum.

The bigger hazard to the destiny of the monolith is generational. The scientists are removing older, and there are no immature scientists peaceful to replace them. “Young people are not that meddlesome in mausoleum science, it’s not prestigious anymore,” Yurchak says.

There is one apparent solution, yet the idea of burying the Soviet idol is not a popular one among the Lenin scientists. If that were to happen, it would meant an unparalleled 92-year-long examination will come to an end. “It would paint a loss of science, studies and discoveries — that is what scientists fear,” says Yurchak.

In the meantime, the mausoleum is closed — yet usually temporarily: Authorities are scheming Red Square for the Victory Day Parade on May 9. It will open again on May 18, with Lenin looking as lissome as ever.

Article source: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/567904.html