Russian nationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a senior politician whose sulphurous rhetoric and antics alarmed the West but appealed to Russians’ aggrievement and wounded pride, has died aged 75, the speaker of the lower house of Russia’s parliament said.
State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said Mr Zhirinovsky died after “a serious and prolonged illness”.
The politician was hospitalised with Covid-19 on February 2.
In late March, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Mr Zhirinovsky was in a “serious condition”.
As the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party for three decades, Mr Zhirinovsky was infamous for making vehement statements that were neither liberal nor democratic and typically delivered with a ferocious glare.
He advocated for Russia to forcefully regain control of Alaska from the US, suggested that Russia hit former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko’s home with a nuclear weapon, and said he wanted a DNA test to see if he was related to former US president Donald Trump.
While Mr Zhirinovsky played the role of a wild man, many saw him as a tamed one submissive to the Kremlin.
In parliament, his party routinely voted to support measures put forth by the more stolid United Russia party, which is President Vladimir Putin’s power base.