By James Pearson
HANOI (Reuters) – The embalmed corpse of Vietnam’s founding leader, Ho Chi Minh, is in great condition, state media said on Friday, a month after the government recruited a team of Russian experts to help preserve the former revolutionary’s body.
In June, Vietnam formed a special council of Vietnamese and Russian scientists to assess the condition of Ho’s ageing corpse, which was first embalmed nearly 50 years ago.
“The council proposed further improving the procedures to examine and assess President Ho Chi Minh’s body, using scientific methods,” the official Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported.
The body is in “great condition and has been well-preserved,” the news agency added.
The late leader, affectionately known as “Uncle Ho” in Vietnam, died in 1969, at the height of the Vietnam War. He was 79.
He is preserved in a large Soviet-designed mausoleum in the capital, Hanoi, where he is displayed within a glass coffin in the dark interior.
Several countries across the world, including China, North Korea and Vietnam, have embalmed their founding leaders with help from the Soviet Union’s “Lenin Lab”, which put the embalmed body of Vladimir Lenin on display in Moscow shortly after his death in 1924.
Vietnam and Russia will increase efforts to preserve Ho’s body by sharing more information and holding regular symposiums between the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Management Board and the Moscow Biomedical Research Centre, VNA said.
The Southeast Asian country is planning a nationwide series of events ahead of Sept. 2, the fiftieth anniversary of Ho’s death.
The events are designed to carry out Ho’s will, which, according to the website of its propaganda department, means affirming the value of Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party and nurturing the country’s “next generation of revolutionaries”.
One line of Ho’s last testament was not mentioned in the celebration plans, however.
According to a photo of the handwritten will, published on the Party’s official website on July 17, the late leader had other plans for his body after death:
“I require that my body be cremated,” Ho wrote.
(Reporting by James Pearson; Editing by Robert Birsel)