Russian right-winger gives long anti-Semitic tirade

MOSCOW — Russia's most famous anti-Semite has outdone himself.

In an hourlong news conference in Moscow last week, ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky blamed Jews for starting World War II, provoking the Holocaust, sparking the 1917 Bolshevik revolution in Russia — and destroying the country ever since.

"The essence of the conflict around the Jewish people is that when their number grows too much in a country, war breaks out there," he said.

Zhirinovsky's anti-Semitism has drawn strong international condemnation for years, but this week's tirade was probably his most blatant attack on Jews.

Asked why he called a news conference to share his views about Jews, Zhirinovsky said, "Many Jews were born in April."

Zhirinovsky's remarks come amid a period of political turmoil in Russia, in the wake of President Boris Yeltsin's dismissal of his Cabinet. Some lawmakers have voiced concern about the possible Jewish roots of Yeltsin's nominee for prime minister, Sergei Kiriyenko.

Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party is the third largest faction in the Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, where it holds 51 of the body's 450 seats.

While Zhirinovsky maintains that his party is not anti-Semitic, his statements demonstrate otherwise.

"You will always find Jews where the war is raging because they realize that money flows where blood is spilled," he said at the news conference.

Zhirinovsky said that the rise of Nazism in Germany on the eve of World War II was because "there were too many Jews."

He said that Jews were responsible for anti-Jewish violence and even the Holocaust. "Jews themselves, Zionist leaders, often provoked anti-Jewish sentiments and Jewish pogroms."

Rumors have circulated for years that Zhirinovsky's anti-Semitism is a response to his own Jewish background — his father had a Jewish-sounding name.

But last month, the 52-year-old Zhirinovsky, who has repeatedly denied his own Jewish roots, told a news conference that his "real" father was an ethnic Russian, as was his mother, and therefore he cannot be considered Jewish.