All news

The life and times of Vladimir Zhirinovsky

On April 6, it became known that a Russian political heavyweight died after a grave and prolonged illness
Vladimir Zhirinovsky Russian State Duma/TASS
Vladimir Zhirinovsky
© Russian State Duma/TASS

MOSCOW, April 6. /TASS/. Russian State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said on Wednesday that Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a Russian political heavyweight, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party since the day of its establishment and member of Russia’s eight State Dumas has died after a grave and prolonged illness.

Family background

Vladimir Volfovich Zhirinovsky was born in Alma-Ata, the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic (now the Republic of Kazakhstan) on April 25, 1946. He was the youngest (sixth) child in the family.

His mother, Alexandra Zhirinovskaya (nee Makarova, adopted her first husband’s family name) was a native of Mordovia. In the 1940s she moved to Alma-Ata together with her husband and five children. Her first husband, Andrei Vasilievich Zhirinovsky, first served in the NKVD (Soviet Interior Ministry) force and later worked as chief of the forestry department of the Turkestan-Siberian Railway. In 1944 he died of tuberculosis.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s father, Volf Isaakovich Eidelstein, a native of Western Ukraine (at that time - a territory of Poland), was deported to Kazakhstan at the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, where he worked for the Trans-Siberian Railway. In 1945, he married Alexandra Zhirinovskaya. A year later, immediately after Vladimir’s birth, he was expelled to Poland. Later he lived in Israel.

Education, academic degrees

In 1970, Vladimir Zhirinovsky graduated with honors from the Department of History and Philology of the Institute of Oriental Languages (starting from 1972 the Institute of Asian and African Countries) at the M. V. Lomonosov Moscow State University. His specialty was Turkey and the Turkish language. In 1965-1967 he took a parallel course at the University of Marxism-Leninism. In 1977, he graduated with honors from the evening course of the M. V. Lomonosov Moscow State University’s Law Department.

The holder of a doctor’s degree in philosophy. On April 24, 1998, he defended his doctorate entitled The Past, Present and Future of the Russian Nation (The Russian Question: Social and Philosophical Analysis) at the Moscow State University. Professor.

Career and political activity

According to Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s own recollections, he began to engage in political activities back in his student years. In 1967, he sent a letter addressed to the General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee Leonid Brezhnev with a proposal for reforms "in the field of education, agriculture and urban administration." As a result, he was invited to the universities supervision office at the Moscow city office of the Communist Party "for a conversation" to be told that his proposals were unrealistic.

In 1969, he completed internships in Iran and Turkey at the offices of the foreign trade associations Tyazhpromexport (heavy machinery exporter) and Neftekhimpromexport (petrochemical equipment exporter) of the Soviet Union’s State Committee for Foreign Economic Relations. In the same year, he became an interpreter at the construction site of an oil refinery in Iskenderun (Turkey). In Turkey, he was arrested and expelled from the country. According to Vladimir Zhirinovsky himself, he was arrested for the sole reason of giving a Soviet badge to a local resident as a gift.

In 1970-1972 he served in the Soviet army at the political (morale-bolstering) department at the headquarters of the Transcaucasian Military District (Tbilisi, Georgia).

In 1972-1975 he was an employee of the Western Europe sector at the international department of the Soviet Peace Committee. Participated in preparations for and holding the Peace Congress in Moscow and the World Festival of Youth and Students in Berlin (1973).

At the same time, in 1973, he was a freelance instructor at the Leninsky district’s office of the Young Communist League (Moscow).

Since 1975, he was responsible for relations with foreign students at the dean's office of the Department of Economics at the Higher School of the Trade Union Movement.

From 1975 to 1983, a consultant and later senior consultant at the Europe Department of the Foreign Law Panel at the Soviet Union’s Ministry of Justice (the panel was responsible for resolving disputes between Soviet and foreign nationals, including inheritance and divorce proceedings). Specialized in inheritance law.

In 1983-1990, an employee and later senior legal adviser, head of the law department at the Mir publishing house.

In 1999 established the Institute of World Civilizations in Moscow.

Political activity in 1980s-1990s, the LDPR

In 1989, he was nominated as a candidate from the Mir publishing house for a people’s deputy of the USSR, but eventually withdrew his candidacy in favor of the editor of Ogonyok magazine, Vitaly Korotich.

In 1988, he participated in the founding congress of the Democratic Union. Was elected a board member of the Jewish Culture Society.

December 13, 1989, Vladimir Zhirinovsky took part in a meeting of the initiative group for establishing the Liberal Democratic Party of the Soviet Union (LDPSU). The organization’s platform was based on the Program of the Social-Democratic Party of Russia Zhirinovsky authored himself. The LDPSU positioned itself as an opposition to the ruling CPSU.

On March 31, 1990, at the LDPSU constituent congress, Vladimir Zhirinovsky was elected its chairman. Since then, for more than 30 years, he has been the party’s invariable leader and since 2017 he led its Supreme Council.

In 1990-1991, he was one of the leaders of the Centrist Bloc (formed in July 1990, it included the LDPSU, the Union of Democratic Forces named after A. D. Sakharov, the Russian People's Front and other political forces), which advocated the preservation of the Soviet Union and creation of a USSR National Salvation Committee.

On October 6, 1990, at the initiative of the chief coordinator of the LDPSU Central Committee, Vladimir Bogachev, the 2nd (extraordinary) congress of the LDPSU was called. Zhirinovsky was removed from the post of chairman and expelled from the party "for pro-Communist activities", while the organization itself was renamed to the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Vladimir Zhirinovsky and his supporters refused to obey the congress’s resolutions and, for their part, convened their own conference and voted to expel their former colleagues from the party. The split resulted in the emergence of the LDPSU and the LDP. The LDPSU was registered by the Ministry of Justice to become the second officially registered party in the Soviet Union after the CPSU (in 1992, the LDPSU was renamed to the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, LDPR).

In August 1991, during the attempted coup d'état by the State Committee for the State of Emergency (GKChP), staged with the aim of preventing the signing of the Union Treaty, which was expected to replace the Soviet Union with a new federation of sovereign states, Vladimir Zhirinovsky publicly came out in support of the GKChP on behalf of the party. In the summer of 1993, he took part in the Constitutional Conference, convened by Russian President Boris Yeltsin, to develop a draft fundamental law. In October 1993, he supported Yeltsin in his standoff with the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation, but criticized both sides for violence.

Participation in presidential elections

Vladimir Zhirinovsky ran for president six times. He entered the Russian Book of Records as a participant in the largest number of presidential campaigns in Russia. His best result was in the 2008 election.

In the first presidential election on June 12, 1991, he won 7.81% of the votes, taking 3rd place after Boris Yeltsin (57.30%) and Nikolai Ryzhkov (16.85%). In the June 16, 1996 election he received 5.7% (to place 5th among ten candidates), failing to qualify for the runoff, (Boris Yeltsin was elected president on July 3 by a 53.82% majority vote). In the March 26, 2000 election, 2.7% of those who showed up at the polls voted for Zhirinovsky, who placed 5th again among 11 candidates (Vladimir Putin was elected the head of state, getting 52.94%). In the March 2, 2008 election Zhirinovsky was 3rd (9.35%) out of four candidates, falling behind Dmitry Medvedev (70.28%) and Gennady Zyuganov (17.72%). On March 4, 2012, he took part in the presidential election again to take 4th place in a group of five candidates with 6.22% (Vladimir Putin was elected Russia’s president by a 63.60% majority). In the March 18, 2018 election, the LDPR leader collected 5.65%, taking 3rd place out of eight contenders (after Vladimir Putin, 76.69% and Pavel Grudinin, 11.77%).

In the State Duma

Vladimir Zhirinovsky was a member of all eight State Dumas: he had a seat in the lower house of parliament from 1993. From 2000 to 2011 he served as the State Duma’s deputy speaker and in 1993-1999 and since 2011 he led the LDPR faction.

On December 12, 1993, he was elected to the 1st State Duma in the Shchyolkovo single-mandate constituency No. 114 (the Moscow Region). The LDPR faction he led was the second largest after the Choice of Russia. He was a member of the Duma’s committee on defense.

In the subsequent years, he was elected to the State Duma as the leader of the LDPR list.

On December 17, 1995, he was elected to the 2nd State Duma again to lead the party’s faction and work as a member of the committee on defense.

On December 19, 1999, he was nominated for a seat in the 3rd State Duma from the Zhirinovsky Bloc. The bloc was formed after the refusal of the Central Election Commission to register the LDPR, because some of its candidates on the federal part of the list declared inaccurate property information. In January 2000, Vladimir Zhirinovsky was elected deputy speaker of the Gennady Seleznev-led State Duma. His son, Igor Lebedev, became the head of the LDPR parliamentary faction.

On December 7, 2003, and December 2, 2007, Vladimir Zhirinovsky was elected to the 4th and 5th State Duma. In 2003-2011, he was deputy speaker when Boris Gryzlov led the lower house of parliament and held a seat on the State Duma’s committee on defense.

Subsequently, on December 4, 2011, and September 18, 2016, he was elected to the 6th and 7th State Duma on the Liberal Democratic Party ticket and led his party’s faction.

On September 19, 2021, he was elected to the 8th State Duma and led the LDPR faction again.

He was a delegate to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (1996-2008) and a member of Russia’s State Council.

Participation in regional elections

Vladimir Zhirinovsky repeatedly led the lists of his party in regional and local elections.

On May 30, 1999, he took third place in the election of the Belgorod Region’s governor (17.72%), losing to the incumbent Yevgeny Savchenko (53.46%) and the auditor of the Accounts Chamber Mikhail Beskhmelnitsyn (19.71%).

Personal information and family

On February 9, 2022, there were reports that Vladimir Zhirinovsky a few days earlier had been taken to the Central Clinical Hospital (CCH) in Moscow in serious condition and diagnosed with the novel coronavirus infection. Previously, he was vaccinated against COVID-19 eight times. He said his last vaccination was on December 20, 2021.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky was officially married to Galina Alexandrovna Lebedeva (a virologist, candidate of biological sciences). According to Vladimir Zhirinovsky, their marriage was registered in 1971, but in 1978 the couple formalized a divorce only to have a church wedding in the 1990s. The son of Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Galina Lebedeva, Igor Lebedev (born in 1972) was the State Duma’s deputy speaker in 2011-2021. According to Zhirinovsky himself, he had two other children born out of wedlock: daughter Anastasia Petrova (born in 1983), and son Oleg Eidelstein (Gazdarov; born in 1986).

Titles, awards, books, languages

Vladimir Zhirinovsky had the rank of a colonel, retired.

He was the holder of the Order For Merit to the Fatherland of all degrees (2006, 2011, 2016, 2021), the Order of Honor (2008), the Order of Alexander Nevsky (2015), as well as the P. A. Stolypin Medal of 2nd and 1st degrees (2012, 2019). He was awarded the highest decoration of the Republic of Abkhazia Honor and Glory, 2nd degree (2005), a Certificate of Appreciation from the Government of Russia (2016), the Anatoly Koni medal of the Ministry of Justice, and the Order of Prince Daniil of Moscow, 1st degree (2021) from the Russian Orthodox Church.

Honored Lawyer of Russia (2000).

He was a full member of the International Academy of Ecology and Nature Management, honorary member of the Academy of Natural Sciences, full member of the International Informatization Academy, and full member of the Academy of Social Sciences.

Fluent in English, French, German and Turkish.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky authored more than 500 books and publications, including a 100-volume collection entitled Political Classics. Vladimir Zhirinovsky is the central figure of two books by a member of the Supreme Council of the Liberal Democratic Party, current governor of the Khabarovsk Region, Mikhail Degtyarev: A Prophet in His Own Country (2015), and Prophet 2.0 (2021).

The Liberal Democratic Party’s leader has recorded several albums of songs, some of which he wrote himself. He is also the author the Liberal Democratic Party’s anthem.

In 2016, a monument to Vladimir Zhirinovsky by Zurab Tsereteli was erected in the courtyard of the Institute of World Civilizations (Moscow).