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Controversy after Putin compares Lenin to holy relics

Published on Dec 12, 2012 6:00 AM
Russia's President Vladimir Putin looks on as he meets top activists in his presidential campaign in Moscow, on December 10, 2012. -- PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin came under criticism from rights activists on Tuesday after he compared Vladimir Lenin's embalmed corpse to the holy relics of Christian saints.

In a Monday speech before a group of supporters, Mr Putin spoke against the idea of removing Lenin's mausoleum from Red Square in Moscow where his corpse is housed.

"Many say the mausoleum contradicts traditions. What contradicts traditions? Go to the Kiev Caves Monastery (in Ukraine) or look at (Russia's) Pskov monastery or Mount Athos (in Greece). There are relics of saints there. You can see everything there," Putin said.

The remarks provoked sharp criticism from rights activists and NGOs such as Memorial, which works to preserve the memory of the victims of Soviet repressions. "It is an absolutely baseless comparison," said Memorial board member Yan Rachinsky. "If someone needs these relics, one could build a special 'communist church' somewhere," he said.

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