October Revolution: Russia's Communists Warn of Riots if Lenin Is Buried, Kadyrov Demands Apology

Leader of the Russian Communist Party Gennady Zyuganov visits Red Square to take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Vladimir Lenin's mausoleum to mark the October Revolution's centenary in Moscow, Russia November 5. Grigory Dukor/Reuters

While Russian President Vladimir Putin is voicing no opinion on the Bolshevik Revolution, it has opened a rift between two of the country's most outspoken politicians. In a rare example of mainstream political split in Russia, the row has seen threats of riots and demands for apology to victims of the Soviet regime.

Ahead of the revolution's centennial this week, the President of Russia's Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov joined a chorus of voices from across the political spectrum in Russia, calling for the burial of the uprising's leader, Vladimir Lenin. For almost a century, the revolutionary's body has laid embalmed in a mausoleum on Moscow's Red Square, splitting opinion from the outset.

Gennady Zyuganov, who now holds the reins of Lenin's Communist Party that remains Russia's second largest, has made it his flagship policy to keep the mausoleum working despite the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992.

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"All this prattle about a reburial is nothing other than an attempt to bait generations against one another on the Red Square and organize mass unrest," Zyuganov told state news agency RIA Novosti on Monday. "We will not allow these intrigues to occur. We will simply chase them away."

Kadyrov, infamous for governing his region with an iron fist, albeit with a garrulous devotion to Putin, took offense at Zyuganov's comments and fired back, demanding an apology.

"In his statements, it is possible that Gennady Andreyevich (Zyuganov) disregards the opinion of the Russian public," Kadyrov wrote on the Telegram social media app, in a statement cited by the Interfax news agency. Kadyrov correctly pointed out that both independent and state-backed pollsters in Russia show a majority of Russians do not support Lenin's macabre lodging in front of the Kremlin walls.

"Maybe he spoke in the in the heat of the moment and he did not think about it," Kadyrov bit back. "You should apologize to these people whose opinion you called prattle and to those whose families suffered during the revolution and the Soviet period that followed."

"And here the leader of Russia's Communist Party calls the opinion of most Russians, including some of his own voters, 'prattle'," Kadyrov continued, digging into the party chief. "What precisely has Gennady Andreyevich done in order to improve life in the country? Any real actions? What specifically (has he done), apart from the populism, statements and prattle?"

Both Zyuganov and Kadyrov have been overwhelmingly supportive of Putin since the Russian president consolidated power over a decade ago, when Zyuganov was last a viable rival. Since then only political forces broadly in favor of Putin's agenda are represented in state and parliamentary roles.

The Kremlin's lack of desire to wade into debate around the revolution, championing neither side, has left room for disagreement between officials and exposed dividing lines in Russia's pro-Putin political establishment.

Kadyrov, although a self-described "foot soldier of Putin" has not participated in Soviet nostalgia, "cursing" worship of the increasingly popular Soviet autocrat Joseph Stalin for his repressions against minorities like the Chechens. Zyuganov has been at the forefront of celebrating Stalin as a triumphant commander-in-chief during World War II.