Letter: Vladimir Zhirinovsky's rise and the compromise of democratic ideals

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The Independent Online
Sir: It should not be assumed that the electoral rise of Vladimir Zhirinovsky in Russia will be greeted with any more dismay in the chancelleries of western Europe than was the rise of Adolf Hitler 60 years ago.

For the past two years, Western leaders have had little difficulty in treating Zhirinovsky's fellow pan- Slavist, Slobodan Milosevic as a serious negotiating partner. Just as the long-term policy emphasis of Britain has been for a strong man in the Balkans who will enable the attention of diplomats to be focused on more salubrious locations, history tells us that a Russian strong man has been acceptable to the West as long as core western interests are not trespassed upon.

It is now clear that these core interests do not extend to the Baltic states nor to countries like Poland and Hungary, otherwise a new security system would have been established to regulate the defence of a post-Cold War Europe.

If newly-free states from the Baltic to the Black Sea do not wish their liberty to be as fleeting as it proved to be in the 1930s, they should combine to lobby for a new security system that will contain the Zhirinovskys and Milosevics of Europe. If, upon doing so, they are told that the Atlantic Alliance and the European Union are exclusive clubs where they can leave their calling cards and attend as observers, then they should campaign directly among the west

European electorates over the heads of their discredited political leaders.

Yours faithfully,

TOM GALLAGHER

Department of Peace Studies

University of Bradford

West Yorkshire

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