Daniel N. Nelson Headshot

Lenin

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Lenin was recently beheaded.

Well, his statute. In Kyiv. Too bad, but overdue. Why didn't the Ukrainians do this earlier... say twenty years ago?

It would have been easier to carry away his head with Marx.

Not many statutes of Vladimir I. Lenin are left, so this is a bigger deal than 24 years ago when there were, roughly, 10,000.

When I was first in the former Soviet Union, there were Lenin (now and then Marx) statutes and busts in the central squares of almost every city and town. They were identical, no doubt from the same factory on the outskirts of Novosibirsk or wherever. If we order them from the U.S. today, unquestionably from China.

But that the toppling and beheading occurred in Ukraine, which Putin would like to reclaim, is politically vital. Ukrainians in the west do not want Ukrainians in the east to drag their country back into the Putin-esque orbit. Those European Ukrainians who have held a protest vigil on a frigid Independence Square want their so-called president, Viktor Yanukovych, to adhere to a potential membership path to the European Union. Many also demand the release from prison of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Why do some Ukrainians not think that the EU is better than Putin? Yes, I understand that Putin looks better shirtless than Angela Merkel. But that is not fair. He works out, hunts and performs stunts. She just goes to cabinet meetings.

God knows that a new Putin empire would benefit no one. And the only weapon Moscow can use is turning off the pipeline of oil and gas. Perhaps Ukraine should look into fracking? Nuclear after Chernobyl -- no. But absent sources of energy, Kyiv will forever depend on Moscow's milk wagon.

Now back to Lenin.

Once upon a time I was interviewing Romanian communists in local village organizations. Among participants in one such interview which turned into a mid-day feast were the mayor, all of the so-called people's council, the party committee, and the local church (Romanian Orthodox) prelates.

To understand this story you need to know that, also once upon a time, I drove into a Maramures village in a rented Dacia 1100 (a barely functional, pseudo Renault 8), met the popa (the local Orthodox priest), who quickly introduced me to "tuica de nunca verde" -- a pretty mean brandy from un-ripened "green" plums , let me tell you. This priest and I had one hell of an afternoon and night singing. The village came to observe us. Thank god this was before smart phones. His flock, shall we say, rescued him and let me sleep it off the next two days. I could have used far more aspirin.

So now back to the politicos... they arose, lifted their glasses to the 'popa', the primar (mayor). to Nicolae and Elena Ceaucescu who a dozen years later were to be very dead, and to me their guest.

Then the priest stood, all in black with a large cross around his neck. He wobbled more than a bit. Tuica is the alcohol of choice, and thus he raised his glass as well. Good tuica is home made, and seemingly about three times as potent as anything Kentucky can produce. And the popa had consumed his limit.

And I remember his communist era words, "Lenin is dead, let's drink". I'm sure Lenin is still dead and the priest is, well, still praising the almighty.

Daniel Nelson leads an international consulting firm in Virginia.