Lenin's body has been on display in the mausoleum, adjacent to the walls of the Kremlin, since 1924.

In what appeared to be a government attempt to gauge public reaction to the divisive issue, a regional envoy of President Vladimir Putin said in September that Lenin's body should be buried in a cemetery along with the remains of other Bolshevik dignitaries.

Several senior lawmakers in the Kremlin-controlled parliament followed up on his call, proposing to quickly bury Lenin's body.

However, Communist Party chief Gennady Zyuganov warned that his party would stage a massive civil disobedience action if authorities try to remove the body from the mausoleum, where it can be viewed by visitors.

On Saturday, Communists stood in nearby Revolution Square soliciting signatures against such a move, Ekho Moskvy radio reported.

Marble tomb

Russia's Communist Party has
staunch but dwindling support

Halfway through the three-hour petition drive some 120 mostly elderly people had signed the paper, the report said.

Several signatories had travelled from outside Moscow solely to sign the petition, the radio station said.

It quoted one senior Communist official, Vladimir Kashin, as saying they would continue to gather signatures until public discussion of burying Lenin's body is halted.

Putin said in 2001 that he opposed the removal of Lenin's body from its marble tomb because it might disturb civil peace in the country.

His predecessor Boris Yeltsin - a far more vocal critic of the Communists and the Soviet era  - strongly pushed for removing Lenin's body but was stopped by vigorous opposition from the Communist Party and others.