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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

For Pamyat Gallery, a Political Opening

A large art gallery on Kuznetsky Most was the scene of a politically charged art opening on Wednesday as leaders of the anti-Semitic Russian nationalist group Pamyat inaugurated an exhibit called "God, Tsar and Country".

The exhibit is meant to "highlight the tradition and culture of Russia", said Dmitry Vasilyev, Pamyat's leader. "If we lose our culture, Russia will crumble and its people will become cattle".

After a Russian Orthodox priest said a prayer to bless the exhibit, Vasilyev spoke before a crowd of some 60 viewers and journalists. Standing beneath a silver double-headed eagle, the insignia of the Russian monarchy, Vasilyev gave a speech that had less to do with art than his view of the state of Russia today.

"The population has become spoiled", he said. "The mass media distorts everything. The roots of the Russian language are being destroyed by television and journalists".

As for the art, the collection included several intricate wooden models of churches. World War I era photographs of White Army soldiers - who were frequently called "heroes" by Vasilyev - and portraits of Russian saints. One high-relief sculpture was a model for a monument dedicated to the imperial family that was never constructed.

After his speech, Vasilyev pointed to the sculpture. "Each piece here has emotional value", he said. "How can you look at this and not feel great emotion? "

The exhibition was organized by Pamyat with the help of Vyacheslav Klykov, head of the International Foundation of Slavic Culture.