June 24, 2009
It was always the subject of some mirth, in the heyday of the Soviet Union, that the name of the most prominent newspaper there – Pravda – meant “truth.” The paper was shut down in 1991, but the name lives on in several forms, including another daily paper and an independent web site — pravda.ru.
I have never seen the newspaper, but the web site, if anything, is worth even more laughs than the old Soviet sheet. While it carries a lot of breaking news stories, much of the content would fit in well at the supermarket checkout line. Among the headlines on the site today, for example, are “Atlantis Found Under Antarctica,” “Russian Scientists Contact Nether World,” and “U.S. Scientists Unveil Secrets About Cities on the Moon.”
There was also a headline that I found especially compelling: “Greenland to Become 51st State of the United States.” The bulk of the story was about a law passed by the Danish parliament that expands Greenland’s autonomy in a couple of ways related to management of natural resources and foreign policy. The writer was tentative about some of the facts, remarking, for example, that Greenland is “presumably populated by the Eskimos” and that “the majority of Greenlanders are presumably employed in the fish-processing industry.”
One doesn’t have to read between the lines to get the impression that the writer has a low opinion of the native people in Greenland — who prefer to be called Inuit, not Eskimos. The story reported, for example, that “Many in Denmark believe that the Greenlanders are not ready for their independence. It’s not for the high level of social problems, alcoholism and suicide rate. The majority of Greenland’s qualified specialists come from Denmark. The gap between them and the culture of hunters and fishers is too large.” Well, excuse me for living!
The only thing in the story that supports the headline is the last paragraph:
“There is another relevant reason which puts Greenland’s independence into question. The island may quickly become the 51st state of the United States if it acquires sovereignty. The White House has been showing interest in the island since the 20s of the 19th century.”
Where is William Seward when you need him?
I’m not clear on this point: Was Rochelle of “Rochelle, Rochelle” a native of Milan who happened to have relatives in Minsk, or was she a native of Minsk who had emigrated to Milan? While we’re pondering that question, there is one native of Ulyanovsk – Simbirsk to you old timers – who may be making his own trek to the capital of Belarus that became a household word thanks to Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld.
Pravda is reporting that Vladimir Lenin’s mummified body may be removed from its tomb in Red Square and taken to Minsk, where it will be buried – perhaps no longer placed on public display in a crystal casket. As I mentioned here previously, Lenin – whom Pravda describes as the “leader of the world’s working class” – has already suffered the indignity of wearing the same suit for three years, and he’s not in line for a new one ITE – “in this economy.” Now, it appears from the Pravda report, the Russian government – which seems to only half-heartedly revere the old Bolshevik – may soon dispatch him to the republic from which he sprung – and the government of Belarus has said it would be glad to have him. In fact, a monument reminiscent of the tomb in Red Square is likely to be built to receive him.
The issue of actually burying the Hero of the Proletariat apparently is controversial: the Russian Orthodox Church, for instance, would like him out of sight and out of mind, but the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, says burying Lenin would be a crime. According to Pravda, there’s a strong nostalgia in Belarus for the glory days of the Soviet Union – no doubt among folks with medium-term memory disorder.
April 22, 2009
Lenin has been wearing the army type jacket for 17 years as his mummified body was resting in the Mausoleum on Red Square . His clothes need to be changed once in three years. Most recent change of Lenin’s suit took place in 2003.
The funding is hardly enough for embalming activities, specialists of Lenin’s Tomb complain. “The state has not been assigning anything since 1992. We live at the expense of the Lenin’s Tomb Fund. Then there is this crisis going on,” an embalmer said.
Lenin’s body is dressed in expensive custom-made suits made of Swiss lustrine – the fabric, which Vladimir Lenin preferred when he was alive. The suit has a modern cut, which is still popular nowadays in men’s fashion. If specialists do not change the suit during the prophylactic works, they steam-clean and press it thoroughly: a slight speck of dirt can ruin the embalming effect.
Lenin’s mummy has been exposed to biochemical treatment this year. It was placed in the bathtub filled with the solution of herbs that produce the embalming effect. “This is a unique technology. It will help the body keep up its shape for some 100 years,” an embalmer said.
Lenin’s Tomb opened its doors for the general public again on April 18. Russia will mark the 139th anniversary of Lenin’s birthday on April 22. A visitor is first shown to the check point in the Tomb, where they will have to leave photo and video cameras, cell phones, large metal items and any types of drinks. Visitors are not allowed to either eat or drink during the viewing. Men are supposed to remove hats. It is not allowed to keep one’s hands in their pockets during the viewing either.