The Lenin mummy, by the time Chronicles readers see this, may already have been spirited from its Red Square pyramid, and the Communist Party of Russia (CPRF) may have been banned. In mid-July, rumors of such a scenario were circulating among the various pundits, crooks, politicos, cab drivers, and assorted hangers-on who usually pass leaks —sometimes intentional ones — from die massive red-brick walls on the Moscow river, July 17 marked the anniversary of the savage murder of the last Russian czar and his family, and Red stalwarts braced themselves for the worst. No such announcement, however, came from Corky-9, Boris Yeltsin’s dacha, where he spends most of his time nowadays between trips to the Central Clinical Hospital and occasional Kremlin ceremonies. Nevertheless, the CPRF suspects that the Bolshevik pharaoh’s remains may have been desecrated: Radical communist Viktor Ilyukhin, for instance, claimed that the holy relic had been replaced with a wax dummy, and Ilyukhin and other true believers are still keeping their guard up as August begins and the official start of the campaign season approaches. Elections to the Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament (in which the CPRF presently has the largest single faction), are set for December.

Yeltsin and his “family”—the entourage that has systematically robbed Russia under the banner of “reform” since 1991—have cause to consider drastic measures. Come July 2000, Boris I’s reign will officially terminate: There’s the rub. If the CPRF is able to retain its influence in the Duma, the “family” just may wind up in the judicial hot seat next summer, especially if Yeltsin and the Russian “elite,” mostly gangsters, shady “businessmen,” and amoral media hatchet-men, can’t find a suitable leader for the “party of power,” one who will ensure “stability,” the “continuity of power,” and a “continuation of reform,” So far, none of the aspirants—who include Moscow mayor and kickback king Yuri Luzhkov; former premier Sergei Stepashin; Stepashin’s successor and Yeltsin’s designated heir Vladimir Putin (since Yeltsin’s blessing is a political kiss of death, many observers see the naming of Putin as a Yeltsin ploy to draw fire away from another “hidden” successor); and “family” favorites Viktor Chernomyrdin and Deputy Premier Nikolai Aksenenko—seem to have won the favor of the crown. Outsider Aleksandr Lebed—governor of the vast Krasnoyarsk region, tough as nails, and an “unpredictable” Cossack to boot—gives elites the willies. Ex-premier Yevgeni Primakov is too honest and would have actually defended Russian national interests in the Balkans, scuttling the $4.5 billion IMF loan Stepashin accepted in late July. Meanwhile, various shenanigans aimed at dividing the communist-nationalist coalition and unifying the “elite” haven’t panned out, with the pretenders to the mantle of Yeltsin’s chosen successor and their minions fighting among themselves, threatening the “continuity of power” and the future of “reforms.”

Thus the Lenin burial scheme: Yeltsin himself told Komsomolskaya Pravda in July that Lenin should be buried; Stepashin subsequently saw fit to float the idea while in Washington, cashing in on Yeltsin’s betrayal of Yugoslavia; Russian Orthodox Patriarch Aleksei had raised the whole issue (probably at Yeltsin’s prompting) back in May. The scheme is a classic Yeltsin provocation and goes something like this: spirit the mimimy from its tomb and either bury it in St. Petersburg (as the Bolshevik leader requested) or, better still, cremate Lenin and scatter his ashes to the winds in imitation of the barbaric dismembering and dissolution of the Romanovs in 1918. (Yeltsin has some experience in these matters. As Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg) party boss, he ordered the demolition of the Ipahev house—the site of the 1918 regicide—back in the 1970’s, depriving underground “White guardists” of a monument.) The Communists just may react violently, giving the Yeltsin-backed “anti-extremism” commission the grounds to ban the CPRF, or at least prevent the registration as Duma candidates of any of its members who are involved in “extremism,” If the CPRF leaders fail to react, once again showing their inclination to GOP-like self-immolation, they will be discredited once and for all, Yeltsin has yet to spring this trap and may opt for some other, even more outlandish, scenario to ensure “clean and fair” parliamentary elections. It is a long time until December. Stay tuned.