Russian politicians and activists used the 86th anniversary of Vladimir Lenin's death to renew calls to bury the architect of the 1917 Russian Revolution.
Lenin died on January 21, 1924, following a series of strokes. His continuing presence in the heart of Moscow has been an ongoing source of controversy since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the dispute traditionally heats up on the days of Lenin's birth and death.
Russian Communists will gather later on Thursday to lay wreaths at the Mausoleum on Red Square, where Lenin's embalmed body is displayed in a glass case.
"Don't they [communists] feel that it is the wrong way to treat their idol - to disembowel his body, to stuff it with something, to embalm it and to soak it annually in special liquids with the purpose of putting it on the public display again. For me it looks like a mockery," said Nikita Petrov, a member of the Memorial organization, a civil rights group which focuses on Russia's totalitarian past.
He said that Lenin's successors initially planned to preserve their leader's body for a short period of time, to provide as many people as possible with an opportunity to pay last respects to their idol.
"A dead body on Red Square - the country's main square - has nothing to do with either Russian culture or modern civilization," said Sergei Mitrokhin, the leader of the opposition Russian United Democratic Party Yabloko.
"From the humane, human and religious points of view, a body should be committed to the earth. Keeping a coffin containing a dead body on Red Square is simply not good," the leader of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party in the State Duma, Igor Lebedev, said.
Communists say Lenin's final resting place is socially and morally acceptable.
"Vladimir Ilyich has been buried properly. His body rests two meters below the ground, just as it should be under Christian and Orthodox norms," the Communist Party of Russia says.
It has been suggested that Lenin's body could be buried in a new national military cemetery to be opened in 2011.
MOSCOW, January 21 (RIA Novosti)