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Russia’s Zhirinovsky Threatens to Shoot Opponents if He Succeeds Putin

Putin and Zhirinovsky
Leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) Vladimir Zhirinovsky passes over documents to Russian President Vladimir Putin in parliament. Zhirinovsky's outburst in parliament Wednesday about corruption in regional politics prompted cross-party calls for an apology. Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

The populist firebrand of the Russian political establishment stormed out of parliament, threatening to “shoot and hang” lawmakers from Russia’s ruling United Russia party, after accusing them of corruption.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, whose LDPR party seldom breaks ranks with United Russia, has long served as a tumultuous and ultra-conservative foil for Vladimir Putin at presidential elections. Speaking to parliament Wednesday, in the midst of a characteristically aggravated preamble about corruption, Zhirinovsky whipped himself into a shouting frenzy that ended with death threats and a walkout.

He first accused officials of covering for criminal gangs—a popular, if passé, trope of Russian politics—naming the Moscow region as one of the more corrupt ones. When a United Russia member for Moscow, Oksana Pushkina, piped up in defense of her region, Zhirinovsky shifted gears.

“A hundred times I will say it,” Zhirinovsky screamed. “There are bandits and thieves in Moscow region,” he continued, threatening to take Pushkina to court, before issuing a more lethal threat.

“In March of next year I will get into the Kremlin and I will have you shot and hanged, you no gooders and scoundrels,” Zhirinovsky concluded, picking up his written statement and leading all members of his part out of the assembly.

For all the spectacle of his storming exit, Zhirinovsky returned to the assembly a few hours later, refusing Pushkina’s demand for apology and calling on her to apologize for speaking out of turn.

Parliamentary speaker and United Russia member Vyacheslav Volodin said the remaining three parties besides LDPR would like Zhirinovsky to apologize, as the parliamentary ethics committee looks at the statement.

While Zhirinovsky’s outburst has undoubtedly reminded any voters that he is running for president, he may not have to answer to any law enforcement authority as he has parliamentary immunity—something he would need to be stripped of to be charged.

He is renowned for making controversial pronouncements, most recently making a series of proposals that would restore Tsarist-era state symbols to Russia.