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An unscheduled stop

Ulyanovsk is a sleepy town on the Volga, but for over half a century it was a bustling shrine dedicated to its most famous son-Lenin. Robert Haupt took a river boat to the town in search of what shaped the Bolshevik leader, and listened to Russians trying to make sense of their communist history

By Robert Haupt   January 1996

On the ninth day out of Moscow, we tied up unexpectedly at Ulyanovsk. “Welcome to Ulyanovsk” said the sign above the decaying, futurist riverboat station. But the passengers on the Fyodor Shalyapin river cruiser did not want to be welcomed-not there. If there is one thing the new Russians want no more of, apart from communist theory itself, it is the cult of the Ulyanov family and memorials to its brilliant son, Vladimir. To have had his birthplace on the itinerary at all was bad enough; to have allocated a whole day to it, unscheduled, was even worse. The passengers…

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