Academic journal article McNair Papers

1. Who Is Vladimir Zhirinovskiy?

Academic journal article McNair Papers

1. Who Is Vladimir Zhirinovskiy?

Article excerpt

Zhirinovskiy--The Man

Formative Years and Beyond. According to recent profiles, including one published in the Russian newspaper Rossiyskiye Vesti (Russian News), (1) Vladimir Volfovich Zhirinovskiy was born on April 25, 1946, in Alma-Ata (now Almaty), the capital of Kazakhstan. His father, described in this profile as an office worker but said by Zhirinovskiy to be a lawyer or legal adviser, died within a year in an accident.

In his formative years in Kazakhstan, Zhirinovskiy attended a Russian school and appears to have felt that there was discrimination against Russians. The authors of the Rossiyskiye Vesti profile suggest he has a complex about the "nationalities question," rooted in his early childhood; they quote him as saying that Kazakh students received marks twice as high as Russian students for giving the same answers to questions.

Zhirinovskiy, who displayed a special aptitude for foreign languages, reportedly went on to Moscow State University, where he graduated from the Institute of Oriental Languages or the Institute of Asian and African Studies and later the Law Faculty (evening studies department). (2) He is said to speak four foreign languages--Turkish, English, German, and French. (3)

As a university student in his fifth year, Zhirinovskiy says he worked as an interpreter for eight months and apparently had other work experience for a few months, gaining experience on a radio and television committee and elsewhere. Then he "went to Turkey as an interpreter, with a Russian engineer's delegation." (4) After graduation he served in the Soviet Army in the Transcaucasus Military District. (5) He has said that he was a soldier in Tbilisi for two years, serving in the staff headquarters where he "pushed papers," and that he was never rebuked nor did he abuse anyone or participate in anything. (6) He then returned to Moscow and worked at the Soviet Committee for the Defense of Peace, later at the higher school of the trade union movement, where he was associated with work for foreign students, at the Foreign Law Collegium, and at the "Mir" Publishing House, where he was a legal consultant. (7)

Zhirinovskiy is now reported to be married, with a grown son, living in a cooperative apartment in Moscow. (8)

The Recent Political Awakening. Again according to the Rossiyskiye Vesti profile, beginning with perestroyka in the latter half of the 1980's, Zhirinovskiy developed sympathies for Mikhail Gorbachev and, later, Boris Yeltsin, and then became dissatisfied with the reformers' activities. This profile suggests that Zhirinovskiy's desire for active political work and power dates to 1990. Another account indicates he belonged to other political groups as early as 1987. (9) He organized or helped organize the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) and became its chairman. Accounts differ as to whether the founding date was March 1990 or March 1991; according to one report, an early Liberal Democratic Party was founded in March 1990 with Zhirinovskiy as chairman, but he was expelled and in February 1991 launched his own Liberal Democratic Party which in April 1991 was officially registered as the first party since 1917 to which the Communists granted official status. (10) The profile suggests that "In view of V.V. Zhirinovskiy's lack of any previous political experience, it appears highly dubious that the idea of forming this party arose spontaneously." (11) (See the below section entitled "Alleged Affiliations with the KGB" for allegations and denials of involvement of the Communist Party and KGB in the establishment of the party.)

In 1991, Zhirinovskiy's party nominated him as a candidate for president of the USSR's Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR). To be officially registered, he had the choice of collecting 100,000 signatures or at least 213 votes of deputies of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet. He chose the latter and, reportedly to everyone's surprise, received 477 votes, more than 50% of those present. …

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