Friday, 29 May 2009

Vietnam honours Russian embalmers of Ho Chi Minh

HANOI (AFP) — Vietnam has presented awards to Russian scientists who have helped preserve the body of founding president Ho Chi Minh for the past 40 years, the foreign ministry said.

Valery Bykov and Yuri Denisov-Nikolsky each received Vietnam's Independence Order, third class, at a ceremony in Moscow on Wednesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

It said they were honoured for "great services for the past 40 years to the embalmment and preservation of the body of President Ho Chi Minh as well as the construction of mausoleum for him."

The Independence Order is the country's third-highest national honour.

Colonel Nguyen Van Cuong, commander of the Mausoleum Protection Command, said the former Soviet Union, and now Russia, had helped train a team of Vietnamese scientists and bio-medical experts working on the preservation of Ho's body, the foreign ministry said.

White-jacketed guards protect the grey stone mausoleum, surrounded by parkland in central Hanoi's embassy district, where tourists line up to see the body of Vietnam's revolutionary leader who died in September 1969.

In 2007 on the 90th anniversary of Russia's Bolshevik Revolution, Nguyen Thi Minh Hien, deputy secretary of the Vietnam-Russia Friendship Association, said that each year Russian experts "come to Hanoi to maintain (his) embalmed corpse."

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