It was the last year of the existence of the USSR, 1991 when Lenin was a mushroom (Russian: Ленин — гриб), a highly influential TV show was broadcasted on the Leningrad Television show Pyatoe Koleso (The Fifth Wheel). It was produced by the Soviet musician Sergey Kuryokhin and reporter Sergey Sholokhov to show the alleged origins of the Bolshevik revolution.

The premise of their theory was that the revolution was led by people who had been consuming hallucinogenic mushrooms. In the process of consumption, these mushrooms altered people’s personalities, so that people [effectively] became mushrooms [themselves]. […]. Hence, their human personalities were replaced with mushroom personalities along with, Vladimir Lenin, their Bolshevik leader,  who they had said, was simply a mushroom and when he died, he turned into a mushroom.

In fact, Lenin had consumed so many mushrooms that their fungal “consciousness” had completely consumed him in return.

Kuryokhin tells the audience that after consuming a steady dose of psychedelic mushrooms over the course of several years, Lenin had at some point himself become a mushroom. A transformation that may have sparked the Bolshevik Revolution that brought him to power. According to the story, Kuryokhin had been traveling in Mexico when he came across some art mirroring the images from the October Revolution of 1917 which he theorized could not be a coincidence.

The common denominator? Mushrooms! 

Here are the videos – Part 1 and 2 along with my commentary below.

Part 2

Kuryokhin stated, “I have absolutely irrefutable proof that the October Revolution was carried out by people who had been consuming certain mushrooms for many years. And these mushrooms, in the process of being consumed by these people, had displaced their personalities. These people were turning into mushrooms. In other words, I simply want to say that Lenin was a mushroom.”

Kuryokhin also made references to mushrooms being not only made out of radio waves, “they are radio waves.” The person he says is “gradually turning into a mushroom and accordingly, into radio waves,” he says.

This concept is interesting because many critics say that most of the claims made in Lenin Was a Mushroom are false and absurd such as mushrooms are radio waves but the facts are they emit radio waves and even sound. Today, researchers are able to tap into the electromagnetic communication network of mushrooms using wires, radio waves, and circuits to find and listen to fungi. To do so, they have developed what is called the Mycophone which is a new technology used to extract sounds embedded in fungi —or compressed there, we might say in the language of MP3s.

Kuryokhin made further claims “the word” Lenin “is the opposite – this ninel, the famous French mushroom soup” – although there is no soup named as such and he gives an example of Lenin’s favorite composer – Beethoven, whose surname Kuryokhin translates as “bet – mushroom, hoven – spirit.”

Millions of Soviets did not know what to think and that was the whole point.  Were they witnessing a serious program or an elaborate prank by the Soviet Deep State New Magi?

After all, as you can see, Kuryokhin seems to mix truth with ludicrous theories.

In an account given by Sholokhov in a 2008 interview with the Russian women’s magazine Krestyanka, the day after the Lenin Was a Mushroom aired,  some Bolshevik veterans approached an official at the Leningrad Regional Party Committee demanding answers whether it was true that Lenin had been a mushroom. She replied that the story had to be false, “Because a mammal cannot be a plant.”

It is funny because fungi/molds are neither plant nor animal and they breathe oxygen just like humans…

The timing of the hoax played a large role in its success, coming as it did during the glasnost period when the ebbing of censorship in the Soviet Union led to many revelations about the country’s history, often presented in sensational form. Furthermore, Soviet television had, up to that point, been regarded by its audience as conservative in style and content. As a result, a large number of Soviet citizens (one estimate puts the number at 11.3 million audience members) took the deadpan “interview” at face value, in spite of the absurd claims presented.

Sholokhov has said that perhaps the most notable result of the show was an appeal by a group of party members to the Leningrad Regional Committee of the CPSU to clarify the veracity of Kuryokhin’s claim. According to Sholokhov, in response to the request one of the top regional functionaries stated that “Lenin could not have been a mushroom” because “a mammal cannot be a plant.” Modern taxonomy classifies mushrooms as fungi, a separate kingdom from plants.

“Until that year, it was 1991, it was very difficult to imagine that kind of hoax,” says Alexei Yurchak, an associate professor of socio-cultural and linguistic anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley.  Yurchak is the author of an essay about the event, A Parasite From Outer Space: How Sergei Kurekhin proved that Lenin was a mushroom. “The fact that he did it with Lenin made the hoax work. If he had used somebody else, it wouldn’t be feasible, but because it was Lenin, it was so hard to believe that this was a hoax.”

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