Moscow: Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on Thursday conceded that Lenin`s body would one day probably have to be moved from its Red Square mausoleum.
But the country`s last communist leader said that Russians would themselves know when the time was right to remove the Soviet founder from his glass display case.
"I think that we will come to this point at some stage," Gorbachev was quoted as saying by Interfax.
"But I do not think that we should be forcing things. Society will know on its own" when the time comes to move Lenin`s body, Gorbachev said.
His remarks came as Russia engaged in its latest round of annual debates about one of history`s most contentious figures. Friday marks the 87th anniversary of the Soviet founder`s death.
Lenin`s body has been on display in the mausoleum since the early Soviet era and calls for his removal were most strident as independent Russia tested its post-communist freedoms in the 1990s.
Those calls have since largely subsided as the country reassesses its vision of the Soviet Union and its leaders. But the ruling United Russia party on Thursday reaffirmed its support for a bill that would force Lenin`s burial in Saint Petersburg, where his mother`s body rests.
"All the experts agree that what is buried there is not Lenin`s real body -- only about 10 percent of it is left," Deputy Vladimir Medinsky told the United Russia website.
"The rest of it has been removed and replaced (with fake body parts) a long time ago," he said.
Gorbachev -- who is no longer a Communist Party member -- launched the 1980s perestroika reform movement that was aimed at saving the Soviet Union from its deep economic malaise.
But that effort and its accompanying press liberalisation wound up unravelling the Soviet system and led to a cultural revolution that saw Lenin`s busts removed from many of the country`s most prominent squares.