Firebrand Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who is President Vladimir Putin's ally and a key pillar of the Kremlin's political system, has died at the age of 75. He died of a serious and lengthy illness after being admitted to a hospital in Moscow after he contracted COVID-19.
He had run against Putin while heading the Liberal Democratic Party in the presidential elections. But Zhirinovsky was a key figure in Russia's managed democracy that included opposition political parties which are actually in favor of the Kremlin.
Zhirinovsky, whose career had also spanned the tenure of former Russian president Boris Yeltsin, used to garner votes from Russian nationalists by supporting Putin on crucial issues. He contested six times for President and had predicted that Moscow would invade Ukraine.
Zhirinovsky died weeks after contracting the COVID, although he had claimed that he was inoculated with eight COVID-19 vaccination.
Russian Parliament speaker Vyacheslav Volodin confirmed his death saying that he died of a lengthy illness. "Today, after a long illness, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, died. This is a blow to all of Russia, to the army of his supporters. A great man died without exaggeration."
"Zhirinovsky was always in the thick of things: A man who deeply understood how the world works and foresaw a lot," he added.
When Zhirinovsky last appeared before the Russian MPs, he predicted that Moscow could invade Kyiv. "At 04:00 on 22 February, you'll feel [our new policy]. I'd like 2022 to be peaceful. But I love the truth, for 70 years I've said the truth. It won't be peaceful. It will be a year when Russia once again becomes great," he added.
Zhirinovsky used to call Ukraine part of Russia. "It's our territory; it's our people. It's part of our country," he said in 2018.
Zhirinovsky's Party is Favoured By Kremlin
In recent years, his career remain static and even declined as he received only 5.6% of the vote in the last Presidential Polls in 2018, which had witnessed a lot of irregularities. But his Liberal Democratic Party was continuously favored by the Kremlin, according to BBC.
Zhirinovsky had been frequently threatening European countries such as Germany and other Baltic nations over various issues. He was seen as an aggressive figure in the media as during a TV debate he had once thrown juice in the face of Boris Nemtsov, his political rival.
His party had become the first official political party in Russia. Liberal Democratic Party had shocked the West and domestic leaders when it had won the country's first domestic elections in 1993.