Lenin was a mushroom was a televised hoax by musician, political activist, and a scientist Sergey Kuryokhin and reporter Sergey Sholokhov. It was first broadcast on 17 May 1991 on Leningrad Television in the “5th Wheel” TV show. It was a very popular program at the time, and had a huge audience, which has been presented with a weekly program on investigative story into Soviet history. It was sort of like a Soviet version of “60 Minutes.”
Surrounded by mountains of books and papers, the host of the program introduced his guest: a handsome, young entertainer named Sergey Kuryokhin. Kuryokhin was supposedly doing a scientific research trying to understand the profound reasons of the October revolution. He had gathered and analyzed multiple facts and documents, which previously were not accessible for the citizens of the Soviet Union. Following the successful business trip to Mexico, Kuryokhin has been able to disclose publically the amazing discovery, which largely explained many historical facts associated with Great October Social Revolution of 1917. He was there in the studio in order to give interview on the fact that Vladimir Lenin used to consume a lot of psychedelic mushrooms and eventually turned into a mushroom himself.
Over the course of 15 minutes, he presents his original research into the question of Lenin's mushroomness, drawing on Mexican cave paintings, Carlos Castaneda and the science of mycology to prove his point.
According to Kuryokhin, this was the top secret behind the 1917 Bolshevik revolution led by Lenin.
“I have indisputable evidence that the October Revolution was the brainchild of people who’d been taking hallucinating mushrooms for years, and in the long run, mushrooms replaced their personalities, and they turned into mushrooms,” Kuryokhin said. “And when you eat very powerful, hallucinogenic mushrooms, he claimed — which is completely fake– they have the power to take over your personality completely and you become a mushroom. In short, I want to say that Lenin was a mushroom. Moreover, he was not only a mushroom, but also a radio-wave. His armored-car, the famous ‘bronevik,' served as a spawn while Lenin was a fly agaric.”
This absurd idea wasn't presented all at once; instead there was a resemblance of logical chain of reasonings, facts and quotations from various sources. An aura of plausibility was created using manipulation of known and unknown data, pseudo-scientific style, and loose storytelling.
You have to understand that back in the USSR, the television was strikingly different from modern times. There were almost no ads and very few entertaining programs. So, the TV programs mainly served the goals of public education and, of course, political propaganda. To the general population, thanks to the strict and formal approach of the Soviet television, all the information coming from the screen was considered to be “official” and thus trustworthy by many people.
Also, the timing of the hoax played a large role in its success. It was shown on TV in the Glasnost period when many censorship barriers fell and there were numerous revelations and publication of previously concealed facts from USSR history, often with sensational flavor.
As a result, approximately 11,250,000 audience members took the hoax seriously, even despite the totally absurd claims. According to S. Sholokhov himself, in response to inquiries about the truth of the claims, the person responsible for ideology in a Regional Committee of the Communist Party stated that they were false, as "a mammal cannot be a plant."
Within a short period of time, “Lenin is a mushroom” became the most-talked about topic of the day, and Kuryokhin was hailed as one of the first creators of “media viruses” in the Russian media. According to his wife Anastasiya, Kuryokhin made this theory up in order to prove that almost anything, no matter how absurd or surreal it looks or sounds, can be 'proved', especially on live TV.
Paradoxically enough, shortly before his sudden death in 1996, Kuryokhin, who never tired of surprising his fans and friends, entered the National Bolshevik Party of Eduard Limonov.
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