Kremlin hopeful Vladimir Zhirinovsky says that Russia needs to rename its president to “head” or even “tsar” and switch to a parliamentary republic in which Russians are “the dominant ethnicity."
A sweeping 3,500-word article outlining Zhirinovsky’s campaign theses came out on Wednesday in the Izvestia daily newspaper, which earlier published one of three program articles by his rival, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Zhirinovsky romped through a variety of topics in the article, including extremism, alcoholism, migration, illegal drugs, male mortality rate, education, pension and conscription systems, but did not dwell on most for more than one paragraph.
He criticized the presidential title in the opening part of the text, lambasting it for being “not a Russian word.”
“Let’s call it Head of Russia, in fact, a Russian tsar!” Zhirinovsky wrote.
He followed this with a proposal to curb the now-sweeping presidential powers and have the head of state appointed by a parliamentary majority.
Zhirinovsky also dwelled on nationalist topics, proposing to crack down on regional separatism and illegal migration and to spell out the dominant role of the Russian people in the Constitution.
He also spoke about last month’s massive anti-government protests, which he said were staged by “well-off people who are tired of living a lie.” He called the protests the first step of a revolution but urged that it be a bloodless one.
Zhirinovsky, who unsuccessfully ran for the presidency four times already, can count on 5 percent of the vote in the March 4 elections according to a January survey by independent pollster Levada. Putin received 37 percent in the same poll.
Though the article outlined Zhirinovsky’s presidential program, it attracted little attention. Representatives from the Communists, A Just Russia and the unregistered Parnas party told RIA Novosti on Thursday they did not read Zhirinovsky’s publication and had no plans to do so. An emailed request for comment sent to the press service of the ruling United Russia went unanswered.
The publication served as the “respectable program of a nationalist party,” said Stanislav Belkovsky, the sole of four political analysts contacted by RIA Novosti who has read Zhirinovsky’s article.
Zhirinovsky’s party, the Liberal Democrats, has long been the only political force to flirt with nationalism. The party is about to face stiff competition after the Kremlin-backed easing of the rules of registration for political parties comes into force this year, Belkovsky said.
Parts of the program, such as the call for a parliamentary republic, are in line with policies of modern European nationalism, though others are “obsolete demagoguery,” Belkovsky said by telephone on Thursday.
He also said the “tsar” proposal was an indirect call for a constitutional monarchy, which Zhirinosvky supports but he realizes society is not ready for that idea yet.