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Tonight Volodya sleeps alone in a special place. But he is not lonely or nervous. He is calm, his body is relaxed. And why not? Volodya is 130 years old, looks remarkably young for his age, and during the day people stand in line to see him. They come from near and far. Perhaps he doesn’t smile or shake hands, and he no longer makes speeches, but he nonetheless receives his visitors with a serene countenance.

Of course, Volodya has been dead for 75 years.

Don’t be astonished. His friends are very loyal. They say to him: “Don’t worry Volodya, we won’t bury you. Someone else must be buried first.”

Volodya, of course, is better known as Vladimir Ilyich Lenin — the founder of the Soviet Union. Ever since the Soviet Union collapsed, the West has waited for Lenin’s official burial. But the West waits in vain. Lenin is not to be touched. Year after year there is talk of his removal from public view, but nothing is done.

Why is nothing done?

Symbols are always important. Flags, anthems and the wording on passports signify something. Keeping Lenin in a display case means that the October Revolution is not over. The Soviet Union may appear to be a dismembered body, but through the good offices of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the body is still mysteriously connected.

A year ago, Belarus was reattached to the main Russian trunk. It is believed that other republics will follow. On Oct. 11 five “former” Soviet republics signed a military pact for the deployment of a joint rapid reaction force. Last December the defense ministers of the CIS met to discuss joint exercises and war plans.

Last week another Volodya — better known as Vladimir Putin — offered an interesting piece of legislation to the Russian parliament. He asked the Duma to reinstate the Soviet anthem, and he also asked that the Soviet red flag become the official banner of the Russian Army.

On Friday the Duma did what Putin asked. One could almost hear them saying, “Don’t worry, Volodya, we won’t bury you! Someone else must be buried first.”

It’s such a curious state of affairs which yet lies in state. If Kremlin doctors ran huge amounts of electricity through the former Soviet Union, would it come back to life? Or maybe — do you think — they could bring Lenin back with a stiff jolt or two?

It’s all rather creepy, to say the least, but why did the non-communist anthem fail to take hold in Russia? Was it the fact that nobody bothered to write lyrics for it? Or perhaps it was disliked because the tune was impossible to sing?

Imagine picking a national anthem without words, and with music that ordinary people cannot sing. This leaves us with the nasty suspicion that somebody set the whole thing up to guarantee the restoration of the Soviet anthem.

Is that conclusion too conspiratorial for you?

Look at Lenin’s classic guide to action — “What Is to be Done?” — in which he gave instructions for creating a highly centralized conspiratorial organization. “Secrecy is such a necessary condition for this kind of organization,” he wrote, “that all the other conditions depend on nothing else.”

Lenin admonished his comrades to accept the label of conspirator with pride. “It would be extremely naive,” he explained, “to fear the charge that we social democrats desire to create a conspiratorial organization.”

Around and around they go — where they stop, nobody knows.

The idea that communism is dead in Russia — or anywhere else — is not factual or honest. Consider recent international news. On Nov. 28 the Kremlin announced its desire to “expand ties with North Korea,” a Stalinist dictatorship. According to Russia’s Defense Minister, Igor Sergeyev, “We are interested in expanding cooperative ties, including cooperation in the field of military technology, with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea….”

Yesterday President Vladimir Putin began a friendly visit to communist Cuba. Before leaving on this trip reporters asked if Putin is a left-wing or right-wing politician. Putin answered with a riddle, saying: “Call me a pot, but heat me not.”

In other words: Call me a book, but read me not. Call me a KGB officer, but suspect me not, etc. (Wave to the nice people, Volodya!)

Did you know that Russian passports still have the letters CCCP printed on them? And CCCP signifies the Russian letters for USSR.

In the back, in the corner, in the dark, communism is alive, the Soviet Union exists, Lenin remains in his mausoleum and KGB Lt. Colonel Vladimir Putin is in the Kremlin.

Have any of our leaders noticed this?

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Henry Shelton, certainly doesn’t notice anything. Shelton said on Tuesday, “We do not view Russia as an adversary.”

Americans can compose whatever fictions they please to hide unpleasant facts. But if people like Gen. Shelton continue to ignore the danger signs in Russia, a naive belief in the Tooth Fairy will not save them.

Of course, on the other side of the world they don’t believe in the Tooth Fairy. Instead, they have Volodya.

Wave to the nice people, Volodya!

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