Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday criticized Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin, accusing him of placing a "time bomb" under the state and sharply denouncing brutal repressions by the Bolshevik government. The harsh criticism of Lenin, who's still revered by communists and many others in Russia, is unusual (though not unheard of) for Putin, who in the past carefully weighed his comments about the nation's history to avoid alienating some voters. Putin's assessment of Lenin's role in Russian history during Monday's meeting with pro-Kremlin activists in Stavropol follows on attacks last week on the anniversary of Lenin's death, notes Newsweek. He denounced Lenin and his government for brutally executing Russia's last czar along with his family and servants, killing thousands of priests, and placing a "time bomb" under the Russian state by drawing administrative borders along ethnic lines.
As an example of Lenin's destructive legacy, Putin pointed at Donbass, the industrial region in eastern Ukraine where a pro-Russia separatist rebellion flared up weeks after Russia's March 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. He said that Lenin and his government whimsically drew borders between parts of the USSR, placing Donbass under Ukrainian jurisdiction in order to "increase the percentage of proletariat" in a move Putin called "delirious." Putin also blasted the Bolsheviks for losing World War I in their quest for power. Putin's recent criticism of Lenin could be part of his attempts to justify Moscow's policy in the Ukrainian crisis, but it also may reflect the Kremlin's concern about possible separatist sentiments in some Russian provinces. Despite his remarks, Putin signaled that the government has no intention of taking Lenin's body out of his Red Square tomb, warning against "any steps that would divide the society."