Anna Nemtsova writes: Vladimir Zhirinovsky recently boasted of taking a DNA test to prove that he’s related to Donald Trump. The 70-year-old Russian right-wing nationalist and populist who founded the (not very) Liberal Democratic Party often is compared to the 70-year-old American populist now slightly ahead in the contest to win presidency of the United States. Zhirinovsky is called a “Russian Trump” and Trump, at least in Russia, is labeled an “American Zhirinovsky.”
What similarities do Russians see in them? It could be their brash, fiery rhetoric, the roughness of their style, the way their faces distort with anger, or, as one Russian pointed out, the way that spittle tends to build on the corners of their mouths.
Certainly they share an ability to feed the public with fury, and change their message as they find convenient. Depending on what tune he needed at any given moment in the political arena, Zhirnovsky can act as the Kremlin’s clown or as a calm, even cold, opposition leader.
Now he is in this second mode.
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast, Zhirinovsky described his plan to fight organized crime in Russia. He describes it as a web that’s penetrated all law enforcement agencies and regional administrations, reaching all the way to the highest echelons of the Kremlin’s leadership. [Continue reading…]