Russian President Vladimir Putin has criticized Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin, accusing him of placing a "time bomb" under the state, and sharply denouncing brutal repressions by the Bolshevik government.
In the past, Putin has carefully weighed his comments about the nation's history to avoid alienating communists and other Russian voters who still revere Lenin.
But Putin's assessment of Lenin during a January 25 meeting with pro-Kremlin activists in the southern city of Stavropol seemed markedly more negative than before.
Putin was particularly critical of what he said was Lenin's idea that Soviet republics should be equal and have the right to secede, suggesting it strongly contributed to the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union.
Putin's criticism of Lenin could be part of his attempts to justify Moscow's policy in the Ukrainian crisis.
It also may reflect the Kremlin's concern about possible separatist sentiment in some Russian provinces.