Vlad the Outrageous shows off his Freudian tendencies takes another whiff of oxygen struts his sexist stuff

To Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a televised brawl on the floor of Russia's parliament was just another whiff of the oxygen of publicity, guaranteed to win his tiny ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party more votes.

That his adversary was a woman - a fellow legislator whom he grabbed by the hair and throat in the Saturday scuffle, only helped by magnifying the scandal.

Furthermore, said the State Duma's most flamboyant member, the woman in question, Yevgenia Tishkovskaya, enjoyed being abused by him. "Such women dream of being raped . . . they like standing next to strong male bodies,'' he said.

Ms Tishkovskaya denounced Mr Zhirinovsky as a scoundrel, pledged to sue him and joined other MPs in demanding that he be tossed out of parliament and subject to criminal proceedings. ``I expect nothing from Zhirinovsky but slander and dirt,'' she told the Associated Press. ``He's a purely Freudian type of man, sexually frustrated. I suggest that he is not just politically impotent, especially since he needed a world porno star to get him hot.''

That was a reference to the night before the Duma brawl, when Mr Zhirinovsky embraced a female former Italian MP called Ilona Staller in Up and Down, an exclusive Moscow nightclub. Better known as the porn star La Cicciolina, she was a vision in a much reduced version of a white wedding dress. So taken was Mr Zhirinovsky, who once offered to father children with any Russian woman who wanted him, that he told her: ``We get on so well, perhaps we could have a child.''

``I agree,'' she laughed. What happened next is unknown; the two disappeared into a VIP room. An hour later, Mr Zhirinovsky left and La Cicciolina stayed to do a strip show.

The Duma fight (remember that?) began during a debate on Nato's air strikes on Bosnian Serb targets. One of Mr Zhirinovsky's allies, Nikolai Lysenko, heeded Mr Zhirinovsky's order to rip a crucifix from the neck of Gleb Yakunin, a liberal who is a defrocked Russian Orthodox priest. Ms Tishkovskaya came to his rescue. Another female MP, Nina Volkova, was injured in her attempt to aid Ms Tishkovskaya. After the brawl, criticism rained down on Mr Zhirinovsky's head. ``One really wants to vote for some karate expert to let him stop Vladimir Volfovich the next time,'' the indignant liberal daily Komsomolskaya Pravda said. The Russian prosecutor-general is considering charging him with "extreme hooliganism''.

But Vlad the Outrageous was unrepentant. ``You do not understand the psychology of our people,'' he said. ``Our voters love a bit of contrast, a shock to the system. So if you journalists wrote every day that I was just a normal democrat with a normal programme, quiet, intelligent, educated - I would be finished immediately.''

Mario Vargas Llosa made it back to Peru on Tuesday night just in time to see his mother, Dora Llosa de Vargas, shortly before she died the following morning from the effects of a stroke. Peru's pre-eminent writer has been in virtual self-imposed exile since he was soundly defeated for the presidency in 1990 by Alberto Fujimori. His visit this week is only his second in the last five years. Although he is universally acclaimed for his literary works, many in Peru consider Mr Vargas Llosa something of a traitor for his sharp attacks on the Fujimori government. He now divides his time between England and Spain. With the death of his mother, yet another of Mr Vargas Llosa's Peruvian links has crumbled. Earlier this year, he sold his seaside home in Lima; it was subsequently demolished to make way for an apartment building.

The German Chancellor has a reputation for being strong, imposing and forceful. But "unusually resistant to mould and pests''? Yes, that's the verdict on ``Dr Helmut Kohl'', a new type of cabbage rose shown at a garden show in Cottbus. Its creators say it also has "lush, brilliant petals and a solid stem''. The Chancellor himself was impressed: "This rose is as sturdy and well-nourished as I am,'' he declared. Kohl, of course, is German for cabbage.

MARYANN BIRD

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