Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a figure in Russian politics known for his ultra-nationalist stances and regular rhetoric, has died at the age of 75. His anti-Western ideas and the greatness of Russia gradually established themselves as dominant in public life, including in the Kremlin.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky died on Wednesday, April 6, at the age of 75. Known for his nationalist take, this juggernaut of Russian politics has kept his party afloat in the post-Soviet era, without angering Vladimir Putin.
At the head of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) for more than 30 years, classified to the far right, it participated in almost all presidential elections of modern Russia and its party has always been represented in local and national bodies, playing the role of a vociferous opponent, but not a rebel.
It is his stinging speeches, belligerent motives and improbable appearances that Russians will remember, such as the times when he threw down a glass of water during a debate by insulting his opponent, or fought in the parliament chamber with a member of parliament.
His latest stunt dates back to December 27, when he predicted that 2022 “will not be a peaceful year, it will be the year when Russia will become a power again,” calling to “wait until February 22.” Coincidence or not, the day before that day, Vladimir Putin had recognized pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s Donbass, before sending his troops into Ukraine on the 24th.
In 2014, he arrived on a semi-bike in a military uniform and set off on an anti-Ukrainian sermon, a month after the annexation of Crimea by Moscow. During such moments of spectator politics, Zhirinovsky built his reputation, but he never opposed the Putin regime with which he was actually crazy.
“Only the Russian leader decides what will happen to the world in the next ten to fifteen years,” he said back in April 2021, at the age of 75.
A few weeks later, he suggested postponing the age of majority to 30, because the Russians “do not understand anything until the age of thirty, they are children.”
xenophobia and nationalism
Born in 1946 in Kazakhstan, then a Soviet republic, Vladimir Zhirinovsky entered politics after studying language, philosophy and law, as well as military service in Tbilisi, Georgia. The region is then at a turning point in history.
Vladimir Putin was still an advisor to the mayor of Saint Petersburg when Zhirinovsky’s first outbursts appeared on television, on the occasion of the 1991 Russian presidential elections, shortly before the final dissolution of the Soviet Union, which came in third place. place.
And in a speech that is still popular, he then criticized the loss of the Soviet republics that had broken away from Russia, and promised to “bring Russia to its knees.”
Founded in 1989, his Liberal Democratic Party has a particularly bad reputation, being founded on xenophobia, militarism, authoritarianism, and the return of many “lost” lands, including Alaska, that Russia sold to the United States. The United States in the Tsarist Era.
Three years later, he achieved his biggest political victory by winning 64 seats in Parliament, to the astonishment of Westerners, who had been closely following the Russian political turmoil in the chaos of the post-Soviet years.
A controversial figure, his provocative nationalism shocked a part of the Russian people, as did his insults towards his critics, his battles or his retaliatory phrases against the United States, the Communists and the Jews, while recognizing that his father is one.
“Our scientists will slightly modify Earth’s gravitational field and your country will be underwater!”
To his supporters, he is on the contrary a skilled politician and charismatic orator, who knows how to play politics to win back the votes of those who are nostalgic for the Soviet Union but also of those who are disillusioned with the communists, democrats and Putin’s regime.
To many observers, it was content with being a tool the Kremlin used to channel discontent.
In 2020, the governor of the Democratic Liberal Democratic Party Sergei Forgal, who defeated the Kremlin candidate in the elections, was arrested in a triple murder case that was denounced as political, Vladimir Zhirinovsky raised his voice and threatened to leave Parliament with his entire faction.
“The whole world will know how much chaos there is in Russia!” In the end, Putin’s powerful opponent will not.