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Molotov, Close Aide to Stalin, Dies at Age 96

November 10, 1986|United Press International

MOSCOW — Vyacheslav M. Molotov, one of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's closest henchmen and the chief negotiator of the Soviet nonaggression pact with Hitler's Nazi Germany, has died, Tass reported today. He was 96.

The official Tass press agency said Molotov died Saturday after a long illness.

Molotov sought to succeed Stalin as the leader of the Soviet Union but lost out to Nikita S. Khrushchev after Stalin's death in 1953.

For 30 years, Molotov represented Moscow to the outside world as premier, foreign minister and envoy.

In 1962, Khrushchev stripped him of his membership in the Communist Party as part of a de-Stalinization campaign. That membership was quietly restored in 1984.

From the 1920s and into the early 1950s Molotov served as Stalin's confidant, chief of staff, drinking buddy, whipping boy and assistant executioner during a series of bloody purges.

Molotov, on Stalin's behalf, signed the Hitler-Stalin nonaggression pact in August, 1939. When Hitler changed his mind and invaded Russia in June, 1941, Molotov went on Radio Moscow to inform his nation that it was at war.

Molotov then became a member of the five-man directorate that ran the Soviet war effort.

It was during the Soviet invasion of Finland in 1939 that Finnish resistance fighters invented the anti-tank "cocktail." They named it for Molotov because he had become a symbol of the hated Soviets.

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