(CNSNews.com) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday he still likes the ideas of theoretical communism “very much,” and recalled that unlike many others he had not publicly destroyed his Communist Party membership card, but still keeps it at home.
“In contrast to many functionaries I did not throw my membership card away or burn it in public,” he told supporters in the southern city of Stavropol. “I still keep it at home.”
The Itar-TASS news agency quoted the former KGB official as saying that he had been rank-and-file member and not an office-bearer of the Communist Party.
“I cannot say that I was a hardline advocate of the communist ideology,” he said. “Yet my attitude to all this was very delicate.”
Putin said that while serving in the KGB he liked – and continues today to like – communist and socialist ideas “very much.”
Referring to the “Moral Code of the Builder of Communism” – a set of 12 rules every party member was expected to follow – he said the “wonderful ideas” resembled the Bible in many ways.
However, the reality was different in practice.
“The practical embodiment of these wonderful ideas in our country was very far from what the utopian socialists had proclaimed,” he said.
The comments came as Putin critically addressed, for the second time in five days, the legacy of Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin.
Last Thursday, he caused a stir by saying, during a meeting of the Presidential Council for Science and Education, that Lenin had been responsible for ideas that led ultimately to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Putin said then that Lenin’s ideas like providing regions with autonomy “planted an atomic bomb under the building that is called Russia which later exploded.”
In his address in Stavropol on Monday – to activists of his Russian Popular Front movement – Putin reiterated those points, recalling that Lenin and his successor Joseph Stalin had disagreed on the matter, with Stalin arguing in favor of a unitary state.
Stalin was overruled, and Lenin’s model that allowed for the possibility of territories seceding led to the Soviet Union’s eventual breakup, he said.
(In his 2005 state of the nation address, Putin famously described the collapse of the Soviet Union as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [20th] century.”)
Putin also criticized Lenin for the execution of Russia’s last royal ruler, Tsar Nicholas II, along with his family and servants in 1918, and for killing large numbers of Orthodox priests.
“Why did they kill Dr. Botkin?” he asked, in reference to the slain court physician Eugene Botkin. “Why did they kill the servants, people of proletarian origin by and large?”
“What for? Just for the sake of concealing a crime,” Putin said.