'Mad Vlad' urges West and Russia to destroy Islam
By Julius Strauss in Moscow
The West should unite with Russia against Islamic radicals and Chinese immigrants, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the flamboyant Russian ultra-nationalist, said yesterday.
The firebrand politician, who is making a moderate political comeback in Russia, gave warning that if the former Cold War enemies did not form an alliance they would be overrun.
In the West, the man who won the soubriquet "Mad Vlad" and who struck fear into the hearts of political leaders in the 1990s with his battery of threats, is considered a political has-been.
Even in his homeland the former lawyer, who has called for the Russian army to invade Alaska and India, drop nuclear weapons on Japan and flood Germany with radioactive waste, is seen as a buffoon. But he also has a reputation as a political weather vane who skilfully mines a rich lode in the Russian popular psyche.
The appeal of his brand of strong authority and ethnic nationalism was shown in last December's parliamentary elections when his party, and Rodina, another ultra-nationalist group, won more than 20 per cent of the vote.
In the same poll Russia's liberal parties, which stood behind the reforms of the 1990s, sank almost without trace, failing to reach the threshold necessary to win representation in parliament.
Perhaps significantly, Mr Zhirinovsky's scorching rhetoric is now directed less against the West and the Jews, his former bogeymen, but Islam and Asia.
"The white race is perishing," he said. "Every day there are fewer and fewer of us. We are half as many as we were 40 years ago. We must unite against the yellow peril and the green menace.
"We both have the same problem: the invasion of the Asians. You have Pakistan and India, we have central Asia and the Caucasus.
"Washington, London, Moscow and Tel Aviv need to form a common front. If we don't, the terrorist attacks we see today will continue for another 50 years."
Russians fear that the growing threat of militant Islam in the Caucasus and central Asia will strike at their soft and ill-protected underbelly.
Asked about the threat presented by Chechen terrorists, who are thought to have been behind the bombing of an underground train in central Moscow that killed more than 40 people last week, Mr Zhirinovsky offered a radical solution.
'If I become president, I will let the entire Chechen community in Moscow know that, if there is a single terrorist attack anywhere in Moscow or in other cities in Russia, they will all be sent back to Chechnya. The attacks will stop immediately."
The campaign opened yesterday for the presidential election due on March 14. But the contest is considered a one-horse race, with President Vladimir Putin likely to win more than 70 per cent of the vote and another four-year term.
So certain is the outcome that rival heavyweights, including Mr Zhirinovsky and Gennady Zyuganov, the veteran Communist Party leader, have stayed out of the contest.
Mr Zhirinovsky has nominated one of his bodyguards to represent his party, the Liberal Democrats.
Asked about his record of violent outbursts, Mr Zhirinovsky said: "Putin is western, talks quietly, takes careful decisions and leaves the Russians in a torpor. His personal qualities cannot awake the Russian people."
I could go for the destroying Islam part but I think the guy would start killing anything that moves after that.