For many years, Kazan University was named in honor of Vladimir Ulyanov-Lenin. There is now a small museum in the classroom where he attended lectures on the history of law.
Many talented scientists, cultural figures, and athletes have graduated from Kazan University. Other gifted public figures, such as Leo Tolstoy, Velimir Khlebnikov, and Vladimir Ulyanov-Lenin, did not finish their studies here. Nonetheless, KFU has preserved a special classroom in the main building of the university where Lenin attended lectures.
Ulyanov’s high school teachers from the city of Simbirsk described the future Bolshevik leader as a very diligent, talented, and careful student, with a great interest in ancient languages. In spite of receiving exceptional recommendations, Lenin faced great difficulties in gaining admission to a university. The involvement of Vladimir Ulyanov’s older brother Alexander in plotting the assassination of Emperor Alexander III destroyed the future Lenin’s chances of studying in universities in Moscow or St. Petersburg. After Alexander Ulyanov was executed for his crime, the rest of his relatives were denigrated as the family of a regicide, for which they experienced great social outcast, even among neighbors.
When Vladimir Ulyanov was also categorized as an “untrustworthy” element of society, his chances of gaining admission to a university all but collapsed, despite the fact that he graduated from high school with the highest marks possible. Vladimir Ulyanov gained admission to Kazan University only thanks to a special request from the director of his high school, Fyodor M. Kerensky. As Kerensky emphasized, “Ulyanov has never done or said anything either inside or outside of the high school to cause teachers or administrators to have anything but a praiseworthy opinion of him.”
A couple of decades later, Alexander Kerensky, the Chairman of the Provisional Government and the son of Fyodor Kerensky, made a sharply differing assessment of Ulyanov, then known as Vladimir Lenin, when the latter took control over Russia from the hands of the former. Before all of that, though, Vladimir Ulyanov enrolled in Kazan University’s Law Faculty in 1887, though he studied there for only three months. On December 4, 1887, the future revolutionary leader was expelled and arrested for participating in student riots following the announcement of a new university charter that proposed an unprecedented level of surveillance of students. As Vladimir said following a dinner with his fellow students, “This is interesting. We have to do something.” Thus, Vladimir joined the student movement and was dismissed from his educational pursuits.
The classroom where Ulyanov attended lectures on Russian law (although he said the lectures were “on Russian lawlessness”) is located in a wing of what is now the Law Faculty. In 1947, the classroom was converted into a museum. Now, various special events related to the university take place here, such as the plenary meetings of academic conferences, lectures from honorary and visiting professors, and, occasionally, graduation ceremonies.
The furnishings of the classroom have changed little since Ulyanov-Lenin studied there. Much has been preserved, including a wood stove for heating; kerosene lamps that line the ceiling; and law books stored in glass cabinets and laying on the lecture stand and original student desks. As a student, Ulyanov preferred to sit in a sunny spot near the window on the second or third row from the front.
Lenin’s place of study has attracted not only tourists interested in local history, but also various political figures. In 2007, for example, the former Chinese President Hu Jintao visited the classroom, and since then Lenin’s classroom has become particularly popular among Chinese tourists.