Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a firebrand Russian nationalist, party leader and presidential candidate who built a considerable following during the chaotic post-Soviet 1990s with promises to restore the glory of Soviet empire, has died at a hospital in the Moscow region. He was 75.
His death, of covid-19 complications, was announced by Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma.
Mr. Zhirinovsky was widely characterized as a bombastic buffoon and bigot with a penchant for violent behavior toward women and journalists. But he was a crudely effective survivor of Russia’s political scene for three decades — rabidly captivating in a nation of mostly colorless politicians.
By any measure, his Liberal Democratic Party, known as the LDPR, was almost comically misnamed, given its illiberal and undemocratic ideals. But the niche he filled represented a small but significant part of the Russian population that was angry and disoriented by the pace of change after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991.
Trained as a lawyer, Mr. Zhirinovsky had run in every presidential election since founding the LDPR in early 1991 — when it became only the second officially registered political party in seven decades of Communist Party rule.