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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

The World Sees the Real Zhirinovsky

The world is getting smaller for Vladimir Zhirinovsky. In the space of a brief trip to Europe the Russian ultranationalist leader's outrageous threats and slurs have barred him from at least three countries, with others sure to follow.


Bulgaria expelled Zhirnovsky after he labeled that country's president, the dissident philosopher Zhelyu Zhelev, "scum." Romania lodged a formal protest after he called it an "artificial state" populated by "Italian Gypsies," and Germany refused him a visa due to concern over his connections with its own burgeoning neo-Nazi parties.


In one sense this is gratifying, because Zhirinovsky's actions have put to rest any fears that he might successfully dupe the world with the show of political moderation he attempted immediately after his success in the December parliamentary elections.


In the immediate aftermath of the vote, he went out of his way to deny any intention of using force against any country, or that he was anti-semitic or that he held out the possibility of a nuclear strike against Germany. He was, he insisted, not a fascist but a patriot.


But with this latest series of grotesque performances, Zhirinovsky, the symbol of every nation's worst nightmares about the new Russia, appears to have made life that much simpler for the world's diplomats.


If there ever was any question in Washington as to whether or not President Bill Clinton should meet Zhirinovsky when he visits Moscow next week, for example, it is easily answered now. In fact, if Zhirinovsky keeps up the reckless pace of his rhetoric, it can only be a matter of time before the only countries willing to receive him will be international pariahs like Iraq and Libya.


A strong international condemnation of Zhirinovsky and all he stands for can only be welcomed. But there is also a worrying aspect to the spectacle of Zhirinovsky's travels in Europe, because much of what he had to say will strike a chord back home.


Many Russians are less than happy, for instance, about Romania's desire to reincorporate Moldova, which was annexed by the Soviet Union in World War II. They would happily dismiss Romania as an "artificial" country as Zhirinovsky has done.


Similarly, many would welcome Zhirinovsky's reported statement, published Sunday in Die Welt, that Russia should put 300,000 troops into Germany until it pays extensive reparations from what is known here as the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45.


The likelihood is that the Zhirinovsky nightmare of an aggressive and vengeful Russia will never be realized because there will not be enough support at home for the wars this would inevitably entail. But the risk cannot be discounted, and the world community cannot reject the Zhirinovsky phenomenon too firmly or too clearly.