Man Arrested for Attempting to Firebomb Lenin’s Mausoleum in Moscow

Wim De Gent
By Wim De Gent
July 19, 2023Europe
Man Arrested for Attempting to Firebomb Lenin’s Mausoleum in Moscow
A Russian policeman walks in Red Square in Moscow on November 5, 2017, with Lenin's mausoleum (R) and St. Basil's Cathedral (L) in the background. (Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian state media reported that Moscow police arrested a man for throwing a Molotov cocktail at the tomb of Vladimir Lenin on Monday.

The tomb of the founder of the Soviet Union, located on Moscow’s famous Red Square, suffered no damage.

State-run news agency Tass cited a Moscow law-enforcement official. “The incident occurred at about 10:00 p.m. Moscow time yesterday, when an unbalanced man approached the Lenin Mausoleum and threw a bottle filled with flammable materials in the direction of the structure. No blaze ensued. Police promptly apprehended the attacker,” the official said.

The man was issued a citation for “refusing to obey police orders.” Charges of “criminal hooliganism” are currently being considered, the police official added.

“Criminal hooliganism” is a charge typically brought against individuals who employ weapons in public places in Russia, but also against people accused of disorderly conduct who are acting for political or ideological reasons. The maximum punishment for “criminal hooliganism” in Russia is up to seven years in prison.

The Baza news channel identified the accused as a 37-year-old resident of the city of Chita in Eastern Russia. The report stated that on the eve of his birthday, at around 10 p.m. local time, the man threw a Molotov cocktail at the mausoleum but apparently missed, causing a fire on the pavement.

Another news outlet, 112 Channel, said that the bottle hit the fence around the mausoleum but failed to ignite. The broadcaster added that the man had previously been detained on Red Square in May while carrying two Molotov cocktails, but escaped any serious punishment.

Russian authorities have neither provided nor confirmed any details about either the perpetrator or his motives.

The mausoleum is situated in Moscow’s Red Square near the Kremlin, and has served as the final resting place for the embalmed remains of Lenin since 1930, six years after the Bolshevik leader passed away in 1924.

During the Soviet era, the tomb’s rooftop was used as a viewing platform by the Soviet Union’s communist leaders to watch military parades. The small building has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Calls to remove Lenin’s tomb have been growing in recent years—spearheaded primarily by the Russian Orthodox Church. A 2020 poll indicated that 40 percent of Russians favor removing Lenin’s body, but no concrete plans have yet been made.

Vladimir Lenin, a lawyer turned revolutionary, was the founder of Soviet Russia and, later, the Soviet Union. He frequently emphasized the necessity of the use of terror and violence to establish a communist society.

To enforce his rule, Lenin established the gulag labor camp system, and the Cheka—a political police force known to torture and murder political dissidents in gruesome ways, such as by stoning, crucifixion, impalement, skinning, burning people alive, and worse.

The exact death toll of Lenin’s “Red Terror” campaign remains unknown, with estimates ranging from 50,000 to more than a million. Lenin’s right-hand man, Stalin, would succeed him to become one of the greatest mass-murderers in history.

Lenin’s ideological development of Marxism, called Marxism-Leninism, had a profound influence on the international communist movement.

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