MOSCOW, February 14 (Itar-Tass) — The Kommersant devoted an article to Liberal Democratic Party /LDPR/ leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky who is running for president for the fifth time. It is an absolute record, which is difficult to beat, the newspaper notes. However, participation, not victory, has always been Zhirinovsky's motto.
This time, Zhirinovsky is campaigning with the program called "Let's Talk, Comrade!" The candidates "thous" the voter and urges the necessity to reform the government system, strengthen Russia's foreign policy, protect the interests of the Russian-speaking population, and carry out reforms in the army and a number of social reforms. Vladimir Zhirinovsky criticizes United Russia for turning the election into profanity, and copying its program documents from the documents of Congresses of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Yet Zhirinovksy has not made any critical remarks regarding Vladimir Putin.
In 1991, Vladimir Zhirinovsky ran for president for the first time, and caused a sensation, coming third after Boris Yeltsin and CPSU candidate Nikolai Ryzhkov. He was in the Opposition to Yeltsin and the Communists and was generally regarded as "a third force."
Over two decades since the election, experts have developed a firm conviction that it was the government that has made Zhirinovsky as he is. "When Zhirinovsky was just coming into the limelight, there were more than a dozen such projects, convenient for the authority, but Zhirinovsky has outlived them all. Understandably, the registration of the LDPR was not possible without the Communists' support, but he used it to the maximum," Political analysts Yevgeny Minchenko said in comments on Zhirinovsky's rise. In his opinion, Zhirinovksy is a good orator and psychologist, and a flexible negotiator, ready for compromise and capable of limiting ambitions. Minchenko notes the Zhirinovsky "always works on himself," and that is why he is nearly the only professional politician in the country.
"He knows that he should not do this (getting many votes), because if he wishes to get 15 percent, he will be regarded as a serious rival. But it is not in his interests, he has no political ambitions, only financial ones," political scientist Dmitry Oreshkin muses. He believes the true purpose of Zhirinovsky's policy is to split the patriotic electorate. "I believe it is a brilliant know-how of spin doctors. He has been fooling the patriotic electorate for two decades already. He has not interfered with any serious politicians, and has prevented part of the electorate to go leftist to Zyuganov or to Mironov," the expert noted.
Head of the VTsIOM public opinion study center Valery Fedorov thinks that Zhirinovsky's chances in this election will depend not on his own activity but on how effective other candidates will campaign.
Zhirinovsky will mark his 66th birthday this year. Despite his age, experts do not believe that he might quit politics in the near future, but they do not see special prospects for him either, criticizing his Party for turning into "a commercial project," and" a one-person theatre."