efe-epaHo Chi Minh (Vietnam)

Vietnam has called on the expertise of four Russian scientists to join a team of specialists on a mission to preserve the embalmed corpse of its former leader Ho Chi Minh.

The body has been conserved in a glass sarcophagus for almost half a century following the late revolutionary leader's death in 1969.

The country's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc signed resolution 739 on June 17, which established the creation of a special team made up of four Russian doctors and six Vietnamese specialists who will devise plans and scientific means of preserving and protecting the safety of the corpse on a long-term basis.

Although “Uncle Ho,” as he is called by some in Vietnam, said in his will that he wanted to be cremated and his ashes buried in the north, center and south of the country, the authorities at the time conserved his body as part of a propaganda drive during wartime.

His body was embalmed shortly after his death in September 1969, with the help of Soviet scientists owing to Russia’s experience conserving the mummy of Vladimir Lenin at a mausoleum in Moscow following his death in 1924.

Vietnam continued to use Russian-made chemical products to help conserve Ho until it succeeded in manufacturing its own for the first time in 2005.

The founder of modern Vietnam was also opposed to the creation of temples and statues in his name, but six years after his death, following the victory of the communist north over the pro-United States south, a cement museum was erected in Hanoi. His mummy has been there ever since.

The mausoleum was built to glorify the nation’s leader opposite the presidential residence that he had occupied when he was alive.

The site has gone on to become one of the capital’s main attractions, visited by 57 million people, among them 10 million foreign tourists.

Vietnam is now gearing up to mark the 50th anniversary of Ho’s death on Sept. 2.

The figure is still revered by millions of Vietnamese citizens, independently of his affinity with the communist regime that has governed the country since 1975. EFE