ZHIRINOVSKY: Russian Fascism and the Making of a Dictator by Vladimir & Elena Klepikova Solovyov

ZHIRINOVSKY: Russian Fascism and the Making of a Dictator

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A close-up look at the most popular figure within the social and political chaos that is today's Russia. The husband-and-wife team of Solovyov and Klepikova (Boris Yeltsin, 1992) have crafted a highly readable account of Zhirinovsky's rise to fame that presents the nationalist leader as a prism through which the bewildering problems of contemporary Russia are refracted. Russia is today faced with a paradoxical dilemma: how to protect democracy from the demagogue who would use democracy to destroy it. For the authors, the key to understanding Zhirinovsky is the Russian concept of the Vozhd', or supreme leader, the Russian equivalent of the German F(infinity)hrer. In contrast to another recent biography (Vladimir Kartsev's !Zhirinovsky!, p. 360), Solovyov and Klepikova insist that Zhirinovsky was born a Jew and has ties to the KGB--charges that he vehemently denies. His anti-Semitism, the authors contend, is closer to that of Marx than Hitler, theoretical rather than visceral. Two photos presented here are revealing: In one, Zhirinovsky is humbly kissing the cross of an Orthodox priest; in another, he is seated at a stripper's club after attending an international conference in Helsinki. In the elections of December 1993, Zhirinovsky's misnamed Liberal Democratic Party garnered 24% of the popular vote. Was it a protest on the part of the Russians or, as the authors suggest, a rejection of democracy itself? The ""last poet of the Russian Empire,"" as the authors call him, Zhirinovsky clearly envisions himself as the savior of his people and many see him that way as well. While not an academic book, the text is enlivened with aphorisms from the great intellectuals of the 19th and 20th centuries such as Marx, Nietzsche, Kafka, Freud, and Gramsci, and spiced with the ancient wisdom of Russian proverbs and literature of Gogol, Pushkin, and others. An insightful and disturbing examination of a dictator-in-the-wings and the creation of a Russian form of fascism.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1995
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Addison-Wesley