MOSCOW -- Stalin and Lenin came to blows not far from Moscow’s famed Red Square on Monday evening. At least that’s how Lenin tells it.
Two impersonators who dress up as the former Soviet leaders to entertain tourists were in a subway station when “Stalin” fell upon “Lenin” with his umbrella, Lenin, also known as Igor Gorbunov, told the tabloid TV station LifeNews.
Other Russian media initially reported that Lenin had accused Stalin of working with another Lenin impersonator and that Stalin took it so badly he hit Lenin on the back with his umbrella.
But the injured Lenin told LifeNews that the two had fought over money -- with Stalin underpaying him for his day’s work impersonating the Soviet Union’s founder.
Stalin, however, has denied everything.
“It’s a set up!” Stalin, whose real name is Latifa Valiyev, told ABC News as he stood at his usual spot near Red Square.
“They’ve set me up. It’s my competitors, you understand?” he said, waving his pipe. Pulling a copy of the day’s paper from his uniform, Stalin said other Stalin impersonators on the square had made the story up to sabotage him.
“I’m going to lodge a complaint,” Stalin said, although he did not elaborate.
Both men, and two or three other Lenins and Stalins, are normally seen standing happily together, charging tourists money for photos with them.
However, this is not the first time the two erstwhile Communist leaders have come to blows.
Last summer, a different Stalin went to the police, accusing a Lenin of punching his wife, Russian state TV reported. Lenin, for his part, said he’d been defending himself from Stalin.
The impersonators are a city institution, with the same men playing the leaders for years. But with more and more Stalin and Lenin impersonators encroaching on each other’s turf on Red Square, the business seem to have become cut-throat.
“He’s creating a mafia atmosphere here,” a Lenin told Russian state TV last summer, pointing at a Stalin who was smoking a pipe.
“And besides that, there’s his Napoleon-like plans,” he added.
The real-life Stalin succeeded Lenin in the 1920s as leader of Soviet Russia, despite Lenin’s attempts to prevent it, warning Stalin was dangerous for the country.
This time though, the offended Lenin said they had patched things up, telling LifeNews he had forgiven Stalin and they had decided to remain friends.