Lower house scandal: Pro-Putin movement seeks probe into nationalist insults

Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky speaks at a State Duma plenary session. © Vladimir Fedorenko
A representative of the United Popular Front has asked state prosecutors to discipline the Liberal Democratic party’s head, after he called parliamentary majority MPs thieves and accused them of fomenting anti-government riots.

Co-chairman of the United Popular Front Vyacheslav Lysakov wrote to the Prosecutor General’s Office, saying Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s statements at Wednesday’s session of the State Duma is a violation and should be punished. Talking to Kommersant daily, Lysakov emphasized the letter was his personal initiative and hadn’t been coordinated with the United Russia party.

The scandalous comments came at the beginning of Wednesday’s State Duma session. The Liberal Democrats’ boss was delivering a speech about the recent elections of the head of the Amur Region. Zhirinovskiy suggested that United Russia’s victory wasn’t fair and said he would ask the president not to receive the victor in the Kremlin. When he noticed United Russia MP Irina Rodnina wasn’t really listening, he became agitated and started shouting. Zhirinovskiy called her immoral and even suggested the whole United Russia party was a bunch of “criminals” preparing a “maidan” or anti-government coup in Russia.

READ MORE: Zhirinovsky predicts war, promises prison for opponents

At this point, all Liberal Democratic Party members left the State Duma session hall, vowing not to return before September 18. However, the MPs said later they were protesting the alleged violations in the Amur polls, not the behavior of their United Russia colleague.

Lysakov said Zhirinovsky had insulted the United Russia party and the country as a whole. He said he hadn’t addressed the State Duma commission for ethics because the LDPR head wouldn’t pay any attention. “There must be something to bring him back to senses,” the politician said in writing to the prosecutors.

On Thursday, Igor Lebedev, the head of the LDPR in the State Duma, dismissed allegations the walkout had been pre-planned in order to attract media attention. He said the party had already sent official letters to the Central Elections Commission and State Duma speaker, demanding a recount of the ballots in the Amur Region.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s political career is one of the longest in modern Russia. He has headed the Liberal Democratic party since its foundation in 1989. He is known for his populist stance and abrasive statements, but in recent years the scandals have become more frequent. In 2014, the State Duma ethics commission ordered him to issue a public apology after the politician had insulted a pregnant journalist.

READ MORE: Uproar as LibDem leader Zhirinovsky attacks pregnant reporter