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Prosecutor reopens investigation into 1918 attack on Lenin

By
GREGORY GRANSDEN

MOSCOW -- The Russian prosecutor's office has reopened an investigation into a 1918 assassination attempt against Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin in which Lenin was wounded, saying the original inquiry was 'careless,' the daily Komsomolskaya Pravda reported Saturday.

A preliminary enquiry by Russia's Security Ministry has raised doubts about the conviction and execution of Fanny Kaplan, a Jewish female political activist affiliated with the Socialist Revolutionary party, for allegedly trying to assassinate Lenin on Aug. 30, 1918.

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'When the case was forwarded to us, it became clear right away that it was not complete, that it was composed very carelessly and in a poor professional manner,' Mikhail Perevozkin, a Security Ministry investigator, told Komsomolskaya Pravda. 'It is even unclear whether it was complete or not.'

Doubts have arisen over whether Kaplan's Browning pistol, until recently on display in the Lenin Museum in Moscow and previously thought to have been used in the attack, was the weapon that actually wounded Lenin.

Later testimony by a fellow Socialist Revolutionary activist indicated that the bullets in Kaplan's gun were tipped with curare, a deadly poison. If Lenin had been hit with curare-tipped bullets he would have died instantly.

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In the event, the Bolshevik leader was seriously wounded in the assassination attempt but survived to lay the foundations for the Soviet state.

Kaplan's pistol, plus two bullets and cartridge cases found at the scene of the attack, have been sent for ballistic and forensic examination.

Lenin's clothes, also in the museum, may also be scrutinized for evidence. However, investigators said it was unlikely that Bolshevik leader's embalmed corpse -- currently in the Lenin Mausoleum in Red Square -- would be examined.

Perevozkin said several pages were missing from the report on the original enquiry into the Kaplan case, and investigators have been unable to determine who ordered the head of the Kremlin guard to execute Kaplan in 1918.

He said official records of Kaplan's trial and sentence are also missing, and searches of KGB and presidential archives have failed to turn up any traces of them.

The case was previously reopened once before in 1934, but no new evidence was found at the time.

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