The embalmed corpse of Vladimir Lenin has lain in a mausoleum on Red Square since his death in 1924 but now, a century after the revolution he spearheaded, legislation designed to turf him out has been introduced into the Russian parliament.
The communist party, which ruled the country until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, called any such move "a provocation" that could lead to mass unrest if pursued.
But the draft law's authors — four lawmakers from the ruling United Russia party and two from a pro-Kremlin nationalist party — cited polls showing a majority opposed the presence of the corpse in the heart of the Russian capital.
Lenin's body was originally laid out in a wooden mausoleum but this was later replaced by a granite structure. The corpse, laid out in a three-piece suit, is still viewed by the faithful and by curious tourists, but queues are now shorter than Soviet times.
Previous attempts to remove it have foundered amid warnings it would split society. The legislation introduced on Thursday would enforce no immediate action but remove legal impediments to it being reburied when authorities judged the time right.
Aware that the issue has the potential to stir up strong feelings, among both communist supporters and right-wing sectors of society, the legislators said they were not acting for political reasons. But critics noted they had introduced the law two days before Lenin's birthday, April 22, and a century after the 1917 revolution that brought the Bolsheviks to power.