Tags: Russia's | Wannabe | Fuhrer | Lives

Russia's Wannabe Fuhrer Lives

Thursday, 17 May 2001 12:00 AM

Every national head of state has rivals barking at him from either flank. Zhirinovsky is Putin's problem to his far right.

Head of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia – which is neither liberal, democratic nor a party, but more like a neo-Nazi movement in search of a crisis to capitalize upon – Zhirinovsky was in effect shouting orders at Putin during the recent 12th Congress of the LDPR in Moscow a few days ago.

What he wants is what he has been hammering away at for years: a global alliance of avowed adversaries of the United States, led by Russia but modeled upon Adolf Hitler's devastatingly failed Axis of World War II that embraced only Germany, Italy and Japan.

Zhirinovsky has grander plans, by far.

He wants to see America confronted this time by nothing short of a coalition of haters comprising virtually the entire Eurasian land mass, stretching across the map from the Baltic Sea to the Bering Strait.

Zhirinovsky told his followers it would be led by the restored territory of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, doing business under a new name: the United Alliance of Free Republics.

Protecting the underbelly of what was once the U.S.S.R., he foresees a collaborationist cordon of uninterrupted common borders through Eastern Europe, down into the Balkans and Slavic states, across the Caucasus, through the Middle Eastern Islamic states and embracing Iraq, Iran, India and the two communist regimes anchoring the Asian rim of the Pacific: China and North Korea.

For good measure, Zhirinovsky even threw in Communist Cuba in the Caribbean and Libya along the North African shore of the Mediterranean.

And he wasn't kidding, either, when he advocated taking Alaska back from the United States.

As RIA Novosti correspondent Nikolai Makarov reported, Zhirinovsky was busy at the LDPR Congress demonizing Uncle Sam.

He accused the United States of imposing "illegal blockades" against Libya and Iraq and of threatening North Korea and Cuba, all of which he saluted as Russia's "potential allies."

And he charged that the United States was responsible for having created four conflict areas in the world: the Balkans, the Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Zhirinovsky then predicted that "in the nearest decade the new Eastern block will be formed to counterbalance the North Atlantic Treaty Organization."

By NATO, he meant the United States.

Almost as if he were already in power in Moscow, Zhirinovsky proclaimed that "Russia is the only self-sufficient state in the world" and warned the United States "not to threaten Russia with economic sanctions."

Then he may have rung a bell in the consciousness of Russians who haven't forgotten Hitler's vaunted, but failed,

He told the LDPR Congress that the "principal strategic interests of our country are in the South, while cultural and diplomatic ones are in the West."

This is the theme of his scary autobiography, "The Last Thrust to the South," often referred to as Zhirinovsky's "Mein Kampf."

The librarian of Congress, James Billington, calls it "in some respects psychologically an even-more unstable work."

Reminiscent of Hitler's recitation of hatreds he developed in post-World War I Austria, Zhirinovsky recounts his own emotionally and economically deprived childhood in Alma-Ata, the capital of Kazakhstan.

Like Hitler, Zhirinovsky scapegoats Jews for the decline of his homeland. Anti-Semitism in Russia remains anything but dead.

While Zhirinovsky has enjoyed notable lack of success as a presidential candidate in Russia, his LDPR is vital and energetic, though a small minority in the Duma.

It doesn't seem to bother Zhirinovsky's followers on the far right that in 1981 he "was terribly offended" when he tried to join the Communist Party but was turned down, according to Yevgeni Kulichev, his former law partner.

Like Hitler in Germany, Zhirinovsky managed to seize control of a political faction on which to base his ambitions.

Vladimir Bogachev, the original founder of what is now LDPR, rues the day he foolishly let Zhirinovsky take charge.

"I wish I'd had an abortion," he said, "because I was the one who gave birth to him."

Zhirinovsky appears often to many Western observers as a political buffoon – even as did Hitler in the early stages of his rise to power in Germany.

This is how Time magazine characterized him in June 1994:

"Zhirinovsky has slugged fellow lawmakers in the halls of parliament, hobnobbed with ex-Nazi storm troopers in Austria and posed,

"He has been kicked out of or denied access to nearly half a dozen European countries.

"He has threatened to restore Russia's imperial borders, annex Alaska, invade Turkey, repartition Poland, give Germany 'another Chernobyl,' turn Kazakhstan into a 'scorched desert' and employ large fans to blow radioactive waste across the Baltics."

But many ordinary Russians don't read Time, and when Zhirinovsky appears in his old army uniform, juts out his chin and rants about restoring Mother Russia's former glory, it is no laughing matter.

No serious politician in Russia dares ignore Zhirinovsky's following, so pervasively silent it is virtually impossible to measure.

As he did at the recent LDPR Congress, Zhirinovsky can bring that pressure upon Putin, who seems to vacillate between shining up to the United States and making common cause against it with China, North Korea and Iraq.

When Putin takes that latter course – as he has, more and more of late – it reads like something out of Zhirinovsky's book ... which reads like something out of Hitler's.

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Every national head of state has rivals barking at him from either flank. Zhirinovsky is Putin's problem to his far right. Head of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia - which is neither liberal, democratic nor a party, but more like a neo-Nazi movement in search of a...
Thursday, 17 May 2001 12:00 AM
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