Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (), alias Lenin (; ) ( – 21 January 1924) was a Russian communist revolutionary, politician and political theorist. He served as head of government of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic from 1917, and of the Soviet Union from 1922 until his death. Under his administration, the Russian Empire was replaced by the Soviet Union; all wealth including land, industry and business was nationalized. Based in Marxism, his political theories are known as Leninism. Born to a wealthy middle-class family in Simbirsk, Lenin gained an interest in revolutionary leftist politics following the execution of his brother Aleksandr in 1887. Expelled from Kazan State University for participating in anti-Tsarist protests, he devoted the following years to a law degree and to radical politics, becoming a Marxist. In 1893 he moved to Saint Petersburg, and became a senior figure in the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP). Arrested for sedition and exiled to Siberia for three years, he married Nadezhda Krupskaya, and fled to Western Europe, where he became known as a prominent party theorist. In 1903, he took a key role in the RSDLP schism, leading the Bolshevik faction against Julius Martov’s Mensheviks. Briefly returning to Russia during the Revolution of 1905, he encouraged violent insurrection and later campaigned for the First World War to be transformed into a Europe-wide proletariat revolution. After the 1917 February Revolution ousted the Tsar, he returned to Russia. Lenin, along with Leon Trotsky, played a senior role in orchestrating the October Revolution in 1917, which led to the overthrow of the Provisional Government and the establishment of the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic. Lenin was elected to the position of the head of government by the All-Russian Congress of Soviets. Under Lenin’s leadership the new government nationalized the estates and crown lands. Homosexuality and abortion were legalized; Lenin’s Russia was the first country in the world to establish both of these rights.(Russia first to legalize abortion) Dissident Marxism: Past Voices for Present Times. Dave Renton. Page 44. Masculinities in Polish, Czech and Slovak Cinema: Black Peters and Men of Marble.(Russia first to legalize homosexuality) Ewa Mazierska. Page 182. “Weeks, however, also points out that the first country to remove all penal sanctions on homosexual activities […] was Soviet Russia.” Free access was being given to both abortion and birth control. No-fault divorce was also legalized, along with universal free healthcare and free education being established. The Bolsheviks fought in the Russian Civil War during which Lenin’s government carried out the Red Terror. The civil war resulted in millions of deaths. Lenin supported world revolution and immediate peace with the Central Powers, agreeing to a punitive treaty that turned over a significant portion of the former Russian Empire to Germany. The treaty was voided after the Allies won the war. In 1921 Lenin proposed the New Economic Policy, a mixed economic system of state capitalism that started the process of industrialisation and recovery from the Civil War. In 1922, the Russian SFSR joined former territories of the Russian Empire in becoming the Soviet Union, with Lenin as its head of government. Only 13 months later, after being incapacitated by a series of strokes, Lenin died at his home in Gorki. After his death, there was a struggle for power in the Soviet Union between two major factions, namely Stalin’s and the Left Opposition (with Trotsky as de facto leader). Eventually, Stalin, whom Lenin distrusted and wanted removed,”Stalin is too coarse and this defect, although quite tolerable in our midst and in dealing among us Communists, becomes intolerable in a Secretary-General. That is why I suggest that the comrades think about a way of removing Stalin from that post and appointing another man in his stead who in all other respects differs from Comrade Stalin in having only one advantage, namely, that of being more tolerant, more loyal, more polite and more considerate to the comrades, less capricious, etc.” —V.I. Lenin, Lenin’s Testament (1923) came to power and eliminated any opposition. Lenin remains a controversial and highly divisive world figure. Historian J. Arch Getty has remarked that “Lenin deserves a lot of credit for the notion that the meek can inherit the earth, that there can be a political movement based on social justice and equality”. Lenin had a significant influence on the international Communist movement and was one of the most influential and controversial figures of the 20th century. Admirers view him as a champion of working people’s rights and welfare whilst critics seem him as dictator who carried out mass human rights abuses: one of his biographers Robert Service, says he, “laid the foundations of dictatorship and lawlessness. Lenin had consolidated the principle of state penetration of the whole society, its economy and its culture. Lenin had practised terror and advocated revolutionary amoralism.” Time magazine named Lenin one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century, and one of their top 25 political icons of all time; remarking that “for decades, Marxist–Leninist rebellions shook the world while Lenin’s embalmed corpse lay in repose in the Red Square”. Following the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, reverence for Lenin declined among the post-Soviet generations, yet he remains an important historical figure for the Soviet-era generations.