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Airdrie, United Kingdom
August 13, 2006
As I walk in out of the bright sunlight, the tomb seems pitch-black. I can't really see anything at all. Then, out of the darkness, I see the first in a series of guards. They look pretty creepy standing so still in the dark, and even more so since it was so light outside.
When you eventually get inside the tomb, Lenin's body is in the centre, lit up from all angles so he really stands out in the darkness. It is completely silent in the tomb out of respect, and every person spends a total of about a minute inside before they are back out in the sunlight of red square. After the tomb, you can walk around and visit the graves of other important people from Russia's past, such as Stalin.
Overall, Lenin's tomb was an interesting place to visit. However, if it was not free entry, I feel that it would be a waste of money, as you spend a fair time in a queue to get about a minute inside the tomb. Despite that, I still would suggest that people who have some time in Moscow go and visit it, as Lenin is such an important part of Russian history.
From journal 6 Weeks in Moscow
June 9, 2005
According to the Rough Guide to Moscow, a person wishing to view Lenin's body in Red Square will wait about ten minutes for the privilege. It should be a relatively painless, no-cost experience for tourists interested in seeing one of the most famous Russians. Well, I'm here to tell you that capitalism is flourishing in the New Russia, and it is beyond ironic that its ideals are being used to such great effect at this monument to socialism/communism.
The security measures in Red Square are very pronounced during the day, as government operations are being carried out within The Kremlin. For this reason, an elaborate checkpoint has been established for visitors to Lenin's Mausoleum. The guards working the security gate have learned to take advantage of these required safety procedures by making them a cash-generating enterprise.
Here's how their money-making operation works. Tourists queue up in a line to visit the mausoleum, and the guards allow only 15-20 people through at a time. This quickly creates a mass of people waiting to view Lenin's final resting place. As people tire of waiting, two or three "Official Guides" work the crowd with promises of immediate access, including the complete story of Lenin in English. Their cost of admission is 150-200 rubles ($5.50-$7.50 U.S.) per person. Remember, this site is supposed to be available for free.
The guards ensure that the time to get in extends to nearly an hour-long wait. This makes conditions ripe for the "official guides" to find plenty of people willing to pay the price for immediate access. The bounty collected from all of those coughing up the price of expedited entry is then shared equally with the guards working the gate. This obviously angers the non-paying crowd as they watch numerous groups from the back of the line subverting the system. At the same time, this encourages others to follow the same path. There is no recourse for anyone to register a complaint, since it is the authorities creating and benefitting from the problem.
This may make you rethink your visit to this holy shrine to socialism/communism. I did notice a group of Japanese tourists who got quite irate and started creating a stir at the front of the line. The guards quickly let them file through. My theory is that they don't want to draw attention to their scheme, since they are standing right next to a building full of government officials. Unfortunately, I got tired of the seemingly endless wait and decided to skip out on paying my respects. But I think Lenin would have appreciated that I wasn't willing to pay.
From journal Early June in Moscow