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#18 - JRL 7254
July 17, 2003
Pamyat to be forgotten after leader dies
By Ksenia Solyanskaya, Boris Sapozhnikov

The leader of Russia's nationalists of many years, head of the National Patriotic Front Pamyat Dmitry Vassilyev died at the age of 57 in the town of Pereslavl-Zalessky near Moscow on Wednesday. Without him, the long-forgotten Pamyat --which means "Memory"--will probably soon cease to exist.

One of the leaders of Soviet and, subsequently, Russian nationalism, the head of the National Patriotic Front Pamyat Dmitry Vassilyev died at the age of 57 in the small town of Pereslavl-Zalessky near Moscow.

As Gazeta.Ru has learned, Vassilyev died of an exacerbation of the disease that has ailed him for a while, lymphostasis. At the same time a spokesman of Pamyat's central council, the movement's governing body, told Interfax on Thursday that the cause of his death has not yet been established.

Given that lymphostasis (blockage of the normal flow of lymph) in itself cannot lead to death, the reasons for Vassilyev's death will apparently be clarified later. As the deputy chairman of Pamyat Yevgeniy Bykov told Gazeta.Ru, Vassilyev passed away at his country house in Pereslavl-Zalessky between 1600 and 1700 on Wednesday.

According to Vassilyev's deputy, the illness had long tormented the Pamyat leader. For that reason Vassilyev and his movement have not led an active political life over the past few years. The last upsurge in Pamyat nationalist activities was seen around 1997 -- 1999.

In those years Vassilyev actively campaigned at sanctioned and non-sanctioned meetings, and published articles in his movement's newspaper 'Pamyat'. In 1999 in the wake of NATO's incursion into Yugoslavia, Vassilyev's organization loudly announced their position for the last time.

The Pamyat leader, speaking at a meeting held under the motto 'War till the final victory!', addressed President Boris Yeltsin, urging him to render military assistance to the Slobodan Milosevic regime. After those events Vassilyev, just like most Russian nationalists, retreated into the shadows.

The career of the political and public figure Vassilyev began in the early 80s. By 1985 he had become the head of the Pamyat Union, which was established three years earlier and was, undoubtedly, the most prominent, if not the only organized group of Russian nationalists.

Before joining Pamyat, Vassilyev worked as a personal secretary for the popular artist Ilya Glazounov, and before that worked as a photographer. After joining Pamyat, the union, which in 1998 he renamed into a front -- a motley group of nationalists, anti-Semites and Stalinists -- gained most of its notoriety.

In the late 1980s Vassilyev's supporters could gather thousands of people for their rallies in Moscow. But in the early 90s Pamyat started facing problems. Many of them were directly linked to Vassilyev himself and half of the group's leaders withdrew from Pamyat after conflicts with him. In fact, they included all the active Russian ultra-nationalists, including Alexander Barkashov and Valery Yemelyanov.

After Vassilyev decided to support Yeltsin during the events of October 1993, nearly all Russia's marginal politicians turned their backs on him. Former colleagues claimed that the chieftain of Pamyat was a ''Jew in disguise'' and a security agent.

From that point up to the late 90s Vassilyev's group presented itself only through its publications. Pamyat was the first to publish The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion in Russia. In 1995 Vassilyev made a failed attempt to enter the State Duma.

He will be buried in Moscow on Friday.

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