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The Pamyat (Memory) society was established in 1978 to defend Russian cultural heritage. Pamyat came to adopt extreme rightist platforms, particularly under the direction of Dmitry Vasilyev from late 1985. It rose to prominence as the most visible and controversial Russian nationalist organization of the neformaly (informal) movement in the USSR during the late 1980s. Although not representative of all strains of Russian nationalist thought, Pamyat was representative of a broad xenophobic ideology that gained strength in the perestroika years.

At the heart of Pamyat's platform was the defense of Russian traditions. Pamyat ideologues deplored both Soviet-style socialism and western democracy and capitalism. They held tsarist autocracy as the ideal model of statehood. Much of their ideology drew on the ideas of the Black Hundreds, which organized pogroms against Jews in Tsarist Russia. This reactionary ideology contained a strong Orthodox Christian element. Alongside provisions for the recognition of the place of Orthodoxy in Russian history, Pamyat made demands for the priority of Russian citizens in all fields of life.

In 1988 Pamyat had an estimated twenty thousand members and forty branches in cities throughout the Soviet Union. It later splintered into a number of anti-Semitic and xenophobic groups. Competing factions emerged, the two most prominent being the Moscow-based National-Patriotic Front Pamyat and the National-Patriotic Movement Pamyat. This factional conflict belied an ideological symmetry; both groups emphasized the importance of Russian Orthodoxy and blamed a Jewish-Masonic conspiracy for everything from killing the tsar to "alcoholizing" the Russian population. The success of Pamyat's xenophobic platforms sparked debates about the negative consequences of glasnost and perestroika.

Factional disputes, crude national chauvinism and contradictory political platforms led many Russian nationalists to distance themselves from Pamyat. Pamyat and its many splinter groups were largely discredited and their influence much reduced by the time the USSR collapsed in 1991. Nevertheless, it is widely recognized that Pamyat was a fore-runner of post-Soviet Russian national chauvinist and neo-fascist groups.

See also: nationalism in the soviet union


Garrard, John. (1991). "A Pamyat Manifesto: Introductory Note and Translation." Nationalities Papers 19(2):135145.

Laqueur, Walter. (1993). Black Hundred: The Rise of the Extreme Right in Russia. New York: HarperCollins.

Zoe Knox

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