Turks resurrect tales of murky past

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The Independent Online
SINCE Vladimir Zhirinovksy's unexpected success in Sunday's election in Russia he has appeared repeatedly on Turkish television speaking in creditable Turkish about his love of that country.

Though he has told one Turkish newspaper he wanted to speak to President Suleyman Demirel, few Turks have been taken in by the author of a political testament called The Surge to the South. 'Two-faced Zhirinovsky,' was the verdict of the nationalist daily Milliyet. It printed such classic Zhirinovsky comments as 'no harm would come to the world if even the whole Turkish nation perished . . . There is no Turkish culture. Culture does not flow from a sabre.'

If there is unease about Mr Zhirinovsky's beliefs, murkiness also surrounds Mr Zhirinovsky's experience as a translator in Turkey in the 1960s, at the end of which he was apparently unwillingly removed. The Turkish Foreign Ministry will say only that Mr Zhirinovsky was indeed in Turkey. The Turkish press has colourful stories about what may or may not happened.

In one version, Mr Zhirinovsky was a translator during construction of the Aliaga oil refinery in southern Turkey. One day he was caught giving a Lenin lapel- pin to a Turk, was thrown into jail for a week and expelled for 'Communist propaganda'. Another version says it was he who was wearing a Marx lapel-pin, resulting in his arrest by the Turkish police and his being sent home by the Soviet embassy. 'Since then, there has been no lack of rumours that he was a KGB agent,' said Yalcin Dogan, editor of Milliyet. 'Anyway, his hostility to Turkey dates from then,' he said.