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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Germany, Kazakhstan Return Zhirinovsky Fire

Extreme nationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky drew official rebukes on two continents over the New Year weekend, as the foreign ministries of Germany and Kazakhstan threatened to shun him for making insulting remarks.


As he blazed a trail of controversy abroad, Zhirinovsky was also the focus of a bank scandal at home in Moscow, where the Russian-owned trust company GMM was accused in the media of bankrolling his election campaign.


Only hours after Zhirinovsky was thrown out of Bulgaria for insulting its president, a German Foreign Ministry spokesman told Reuters on Sunday that the Russian leader's tendency to make "threats" and insults against Germany "disqualifies him as a discussionpartner."


Zhirinovsky had reacted angrily to Germany's decision to deny him a visa, saying that if he became president, "relations between Russia and Germany will be much worse.


"Germany is in a state as it is, with Turks and other problems," he said, according to Reuters.


The Kazakh foreign minister, Tuleutai Suleimenov, told a press conference in Almaty on Thursday that Zhirinovsky might be barred from visiting the former Soviet Central Asian nation where he was born, partly because he had insulted President Nursultan Nazarbayev.


Returning from Bulgaria on Sunday, Zhirinovsky kept his rhetoric wild, complaining that in Europe: "All the brothels are full of Russian women." He blamed the phenomenon on President Boris Yeltsin's reformist policies.


"In two and a half years, to turn the country into a dustbin, into a latrine and push young people into prostitution," he said. "It's time to smash all this as quickly as we can."


On Monday he called for five or six cabinet ministers to be replaced, including Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Reuters reported.


While Zhirinovsky was in Europe, the daily Segodnya had accused the Moscow-based investment company GMM Trust Financial Services of paying for the $800,000 advertising campaign that helped his Liberal Democratic Party win 23 percent of the party vote in December's parliamentary elections.


That report was picked up by newspapers in Holland, where GMM has run into trouble for allegedly importing funds from Russia without a banking license.


But in an interview Monday, GMM's Moscow chief, Alexander Liozner, denied the Segodnya report and said that he would resign if the company were "in any way linked to that crazy guy," referring to Zhirinovsky.


According to the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, Anton Nenakhov, the 26-year-old Russian who founded GMM with two Dutch partners and is now its sole owner, made donations of $50,000 each to the campaigns of Zhirinovsky and his political opponent First Deputy Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar.


Liozner confirmed reports that the Central Bank had declared GMM was acting illegally by working as a trust company without a banking license. But he maintained that Russian law does not require licenses for trust companies.


He said the timing of the order, which was dated Dec. 24 but made public Dec. 30, the day the Segodnya story ran, showed it was part of "the great search now going on for the reasons for Zhirinovsky's success."


Central Bank officials were on vacation Monday and could not be reached for comment.


GMM has been a target of scrutiny because of its claim to guarantee 24 percent yearly dividends on hard-currency deposits. Such returns, wrote Mikhail Leontyev of Segodnya, "cannot be achieved by any means but criminal ones." Liozner attributed the astronomical returns to "the art of finance."