'Russian Hitler' rants about war

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The Independent Online
BERLIN - A new world war and Germany's 'complete destruction' could result from Bonn's refusal to grant him a visa, the Russian ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky said last week, according to a report yesterday by Welt am Sonntag newspaper. Mr Zhirinovsky made the remarks when told by a German diplomat in Bulgaria that he was being denied a visa. The German government also said that he had made threats.

The extremist, whose party won most votes in Russia's parliamentary elections last month, also said that if he gained power he would reverse the Russian withdrawal from eastern Germany and move in 300,000 troops. The man dubbed 'the Russian Hitler' by some German media also threatened to impoverish Germany by exacting more reparations for the Second World War, the paper said, citing security sources.

Mr Zhirinovsky is causing alarm with his expansionist and anti-Semitic rhetoric because it was embraced by so many Russians angered by the poverty and disorder that have followed the Soviet Union's collapse. He has close ties with German and Austrian extremists and has advocated carving up central Europe just as Hitler and Stalin did.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman would not confirm the content of Mr Zhirinovsky's threats. 'He made threats against Germany but we do not wish to mention them in detail,' said a spokesman, Markus Ederer. 'He also personally insulted the German consular official. He yelled at the German official. He was in fact very angry.' Mr Zhirinovsky was being expelled from Bulgaria for insulting its president.

His nationalist zealotry has provoked anger and worry in former Soviet satellites from the Baltics to the Balkans and has made him a persona non grata in many lands.

Also causing alarm is Mr Zhirinovsky's claim, denied by Russian military leaders, that Moscow has a non-nuclear secret weapon capable of world destruction. Some European diplomats have publicly questioned his mental health.

One sector of the Russian populace that his restore-the-empire rhetoric appeals to is the military, whose ranks have been reduced by a breakdown of the draft and whose power has waned.

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