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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Zhirinovsky May Face Warmongering Charges

Russian authorities said Friday they were considering calls to charge ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky with spreading war propaganda.


An official at the prosecutor-general's office, Vladimir Kirakozov, said it would study a letter in which a prominent lawyer and publicist accused Zhirinovsky of calling for war against Russia's neighbors in his autobiography.


"In this book, the author advocates unleashing a war of aggression against Russia's neighbors Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan," publicist Kronid Lyubarsky wrote in the letter, published Friday in Izvestia newspaper.


He quoted a number of passages from the book, "Last Play for the South," in which Zhirinovsky speaks of Russia expanding its frontiers to the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean.


Kirakozov said the prosecutor's office would examine Lyubarsky's letter but declined to speculate on whether a prosecution was possible.


He said Zhirinovsky's book was "unclear." While it appeared to advocate a military drive against Russia's neighbors, the author said the process must be peaceful and without bloodshed.


Zhirinovsky, who advocates restoration of a Russian empire, has spoken of Russian soldiers washing their boots in the Indian Ocean, of mounting a naval blockade of Japan and of using nuclear weapons against Germany.


His success in last month's elections, in which his party emerged as one of the biggest in parliament, has alarmed the West and Russia's neighbors.


Yegor Gaidar, the ex-economics minister who heads the reformist bloc Russia's Choice, has also said his party will bring Zhirinovsky's statements to the attention of prosecutors.


Lyubarsky said in his letter that Zhirinovsky should be charged under Article 71 of the criminal code, which states that war propaganda in any form is punishable by up to eight years in jail.