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The Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR)

Forming the party

An initiative group called 'Liberal Democratic Party' (LDP) was established in May-June 1989 by Vladimir Bogachev, who had quit Leo Ubozhko's Democratic Party (DP). Soon Bogachev was joined by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the author of the 'Russian Social-Democratic Party Program', dating back to May 1988. In December 1989, after an organizational meeting in Bogachev's apartment, Zhirinovsky's program was renamed as 'Russian Liberal Democratic Party Draft Program'. The LDP had 13 members in early 1990.

At the Founding Congress of March 31, 1990, the Bogachev-Zhirinovsky group became known as "Liberal Democratic Party of the Soviet Union" (LDPSS).

All Congress participants were given convention delegate IDs and LDPSS membership cards. The Party's charter and program were approved, and the Central Committee (with 13 members) was elected along with the Chairman (Vladimir Zhirinovsky) and the Chief Coordinator (V. Bogachev). It was announced that the LDPSS had "over three thousand supporters from 31 regions", and that it was "the first opposition force in the USSR."

On June 8, 1990, Vladimir Zhirinovsky founded the Centrist Bloc of Political Parties and Movements (TSBPPID) with Vladimir Voronin. In late September/October 1990, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, along with other party leaders of the Centrist Bloc, attended the USSR Supreme Soviet consultations in Petrovo-Dalniy and the Kremlin meeting with the President of the USSR Council of Ministers, Nikolai Ryzhkov. The topic was the possible formation of a "National Unity Government."

A failed split

On October 6, 1990, during the Chairman's trip to the International Liberal Party Congress in Helsinki, to which he was invited as an observer, a group of Central Committee members headed by V. Bogachev, Constantin Krivonosov, Evgeny Smirnov and Vladimir Tikhomirov organized an Extraordinary Congress, excluded V. Zhirinovsky for "pro-communist activities," and renamed the LDPSS, which thus became "Liberal Democratic Party" (LDP). Bogachev-Krivinosov's LDP existed until the spring of 1991, when the party split into the "Russian Liberal Party" (RLP), headed by K. Krivonosov, and the "European Liberal Democratic Party" (ELDP), headed by V. Bogachev.

On October 20, 1990, Vladimir Zhirinovskiy and his supporters organized the 'All-Union Conference with the rights of a Congress' and expelled the internal opposition. They also changed the party's charter, expanded the Central Committee to 26 members and created a new governing body - the party's Supreme Council, consisting of 5 members (party chairman Vladimir Zhirinovsky, deputy chairman Leonid Alimov, and party sponsors Viktor Bogatiy, Stanislav Zhebrowskiy and Ahmet Halitov).

In late 1990/early 1991, Vladimir Zhirinovsky repeatedly advocated the declaration of a state of emergency and the temporary dissolution of all political parties. On February 16, 1991, Vladimir Voronin and Vladimir Zhirinovsky organized a TSBPPID conference in the Central Tourist House, where Voronin supported the introduction of direct presidential rule in the USSR, the dissolution of the People's Deputies Congress and the Baltic Republics' Parliaments, as well as a temporary ban on all political parties.

On February 27, 1991, the LDPSS attended the RSFSR Communist Party conference titled 'For a great, united Russia!'.

On April 12, 1991, the LDPSS was registered by the USSR Ministry of Justice (the second and last after the KPSS).
As it turned out, a list of 146 party members was submitted (according to the Law on Registration, there should have been at least 5 thousand members enrolled for Union Parties). Shortly thereafter, Voronin, the Chairman of the Centrist bloc, accused Zhirinovsky of using lists of other bloc organizations when registering the LDPSS - in particular, the Society of Meskhetian Turks (Vatan) and the National Abkhazia Forum (Aidgylara) - and announced the expulsion of Zhirinovsky from the TSBPPID.

The 2nd LDPSS Congress was held in Moscow on April 13-14, 1991. LDPSS's 'Russian Link' was established then. V. Zhirinovsky was appointed the party's presidential candidate during the LDPSS conference held on May 10, 1991. His candidacy gathered the necessary number of votes at the 4th RSFSR People's Deputies congress and was included in the list of RSFSR presidential candidates. For vice-president, Vladimir Zhirinovskiy chose a KPSS member: businessman Andrei Zavidiy, who sponsored the campaign.

In the RSFSR presidential election, Vladimir Zhirinovskiy obtained 6,211,007 votes (7.81%), finishing third after Boris Yeltsin and Nikolai Ryzhkov. After the election, LDPSS branches emerged in many cities.

With the Emergency Committee

During the attempted coup in August 1991, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, "on behalf of the LDPSS Supreme Council" made a statement "supporting the transfer of all power in the USSR to the USSR Emergency Committee and the restoration of the USSR Constitution across the country." On August 22, 1991, Moscow Mayor Gavriil Popov suspended LDPSS's activities in Moscow. Following the failed coup attempt, the party received a warning from the Ministry of Justice, after which members of the LDPSS Supreme Council expressed their regret for supporting the Emergency Committee. The investigation team on the Emergency Committee case prepared charges against Zhirinovskiy under six articles, but he was not charged.

For the USSR

A party conference held on November 2-3, 1991, was attended by 356 guests from 60 regions. Appeals were addressed to M. Gorbachev and B. Yeltsin concerning the political situation in the country.

In December 1991, the LDPSS condemned the Bialowieza Accords signed by Yeltsin, Kravchuk and Shushkevich, and held rallies against the collapse of the USSR.

Together with former USSR people's deputies, who did not accept the Union's dissolution, Vladimir Zhirinovsky attended the so-called '6th extraordinary USSR People's Deputies Congress' and the solemn meeting on December 30, 1992. According to Saghy Umalatova, who during the '6th Congress' was elected Chairman of the Permanent Congress Presidium of the USSR People's Deputies, these activities were funded by Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

The Founding of the LDPR

The 3rd LDP Congress was held in Moscow on April 18-19, 1992. According to official figures, it was attended by 627 delegates from 43 regions. The party was renamed the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR). Vladimir Zhirinovsky was re-elected party chairman, while Ahmet Halitov - the manager of a collective farm outside Moscow - was elected deputy chairman.

In July 1992, Zhirinovsky said in an interview with the Finnish Communist Party's newspaper that he could only see the future of Finland as a part of Russia.

On August 10, 1992, the Russian Ministry of Justice revoked LDPSS's registration, claiming that the process had been carried out "with flagrant illegalities and forged documents." The party was registered again in 1992 (now as LDPR).

Splinters

In June 1992 the LDPR created a 'shadow cabinet', which consisted of about 20 members. The cabinet of "ministers" included writer Eduard Limonov (Savenko) as the Minister of Security, musician Sergey Zharikov (leader of the punk band DK) as the Minister of Culture, Mikhail Ivanov (2nd Rank Captain and anti-Zionist from St. Petersburg) as the First Deputy-Premier. The cabinet also included Alexey Mitrofanov (Minister of Foreign Affairs), Andrey Arkhipov (Minister of Information and Propaganda), Muscovite hammer throw champion Alexander Kurskiy (Minister of Mineral Resources), Ahmet Halitov (Minister of Food), and showman Ivan Demidov.

In November 1992, a group of shadow cabinet members - E. Limonov, S. Zharikov, A. Arhipov, A. Mitrofanov, A. Kursky - and a number of radical LDPR leaders decided to quit because they were unhappy with Vladimir Zhirinovsky's leadership style. According to E. Limonov, Alexander Vengerovsky and writer Sergei Plekhanov were also involved in the "conspiracy".

On November 22, 1992, the dissenters held the founding congress of the National Radical Party (CHP), led by Eduard Limonov. A. Vengerovsky didn't join the event, though he provided the location. A. Mitrofanov was elected to the CHP Political Council, but returned to Vladimir Zhirinovsky less than a month later (CHP later split into the Right-Radical Party - PRP, headed by Alexander Arkhipov and S. Zharikov, and the National-Bolshevik Party, headed by E. Limonov).

In a referendum held on April 25, 1993, Zhirinovsky's party made the following recommendations: to reject the President's vote of confidence, to vote against government reforms, and to vote for early Parliament and Presidential elections (the "no, no, yes, yes" formula).

On the eve of the 4th LDPR Congress, which was held in Moscow on April 24-25, 1993, Gennady Kazantsev - the Party Congress Deputy Chairman, who insisted on the report of the Audit Commission - was removed from his post and deprived of his mandate. The event was attended by 420 delegates from 44 Russian territories, regions and republics, as well as 21 delegates from neighboring countries (Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia).

The Congress re-elected Vladimir Zhirinovsky
as a Party Chairman. The new Supreme Council consisted of Sergey
Abeltsev, A. Vengerovsky, S. Zhebrovsky and Viktor Kobelev. Later on, Vladimir Gvozdaryev, who was also appointed Deputy Chairman for economic issues, was co-opted to the Supreme Council. The LDPR's "shadow cabinet" was reshuffled (40 members, including A. Vengerovsky, S. Zhebrovsky Victor Limar, S. Abeltsev, Mitrofanov). During the 4th LDPR Congress, the Minister of Defense (P. Gratchev) congratulated Zhirinovsky for his 47th anniversary in writing.

1993 Elections. For the Constitution. Triumph and comedy

In the summer of 1993, the party attended the Constitutional meeting convened by President Boris Yeltsin and supported the presidential draft of the new Russian Constitution.

In September 1993, Vladimir Zhirinovsky approved Boris Yeltsin's decree to dissolve the parliament, and then condemned the violent actions on both sides while accusing Yeltsin of violating the Constitution and of carrying out an amateurish coup.

On November 3, 1993, the LDPR Supreme Council appointed the party's federal State Duma candidates. V. Kobelev was the second name in the party's electoral list; the third was Vyacheslav Marychev, a professional entertainer from St. Petersburg who became famous for his outrageous attire and antics in the Duma.

In a referendum held simultaneously with the elections, the LDPR campaigned for the adoption of Yeltsin's Constitutional draft, which was criticized for its authoritarianism by most other candidates (except Vybora Rossii - Choice of Russia). The LDPR believes that they made a decisive contribution to the adoption of the 1993 Constitution, which, according to official figures, obtained 58.4% of the votes in the referendum.

On the eve of the election, at the request of Vybor Rossii leaders, federal TV channels allocated a few hours to negative propaganda against the LDPR (a documentary film, Gennady Khazanov's show, etc.), but the initiative had the opposite effect.

The LDPR list won the December 1993 elections: 12,318,562 votes (22.92%) and, consequently, 59 seats in the State Duma. 5 LDPR candidates were elected in single-member districts.

Concerning the party's funding sources, Zhirinovsky said: "Those whose leadership is not confident in the future may keep them in secret" - and named his patrons: the Stolichny bank and the Menatep group. However, Stolichny's and Menatep's managers said they did not have any relationship with the LDPR. Sergey Putin, the head of the party's ideological department, stated that Zhirinovsky obtained funding from the military industry. The LDPR's 1993 election fund exceeded the sum of 100 million rubles - given to every party from the state budget - by 98,600 non-denominated rubles (for comparison: KPRF budget: 100 million; PRES of S. Shahray’s : 830 million; Vybor Rossii: 1.9 billion rubles).

On January 13, 1994, 63 LDPR faction MPs were registered in the State Duma. Georgiy Lukava - a LDPR deputy - opened the first State Duma meeting since 1917. The parliamentary group selected Vladimir Zhirinovskiy for the post of State Duma Chairman, but he withdrew his candidacy saying that he wanted to keep his health for the presidential elections. In the coalition list, approved on January 17, 1994, the LDPR faction appointed the Duma Deputy Chairman (A. Vengerovsky) and the chairmen of the following committees: Labor and Social Support (Sergey Kalashnikov), Ecology (Mikhail Lemeshev), Industry, Construction, Transport and Energy (Vladimir Gusev), Natural Resources and Environment (Nicholas Astafjev) and Geopolitics (Viktor Ustinov). The Geopolitics Committee was created in the aftermath of an LDPR ultimatum.

The faction unsuccessfully presented its own version of political and economic amnesty to the first Duma. On February 23, 1994, all 57 MPs who took part in the amnesty package voting - prepared by the centrist factions PRES, Novaya Regionalnaya Politika (New Regional Politics) and Zhenshchiny Rossii (Women of Russia) - supported the amnesty. 54 of them supported the "small package" proposed by the Communists and the Agrarians (without canceling the parliamentary investigation on the October events).

While discussing Duma Regulations and the MP Status Law, Vladimir Zhirinovsky insisted on the adoption of an "imperative mandate" to sweep "bastards and traitors" from its ranks. The LDPR faction blocked decisions on various issues and suggested their adoption as a package along with the "imperative mandate".

On April 22, 1994, 25 LDPR faction MPs issued an appeal to Mr. Rybkin accusing him of cultural and intellectual inconsistencies, immoral cheap politics, etc. The appeal contained more than 4 pages and demanded his resignation.

On June 10, 1994, Prosecutor-General Alexei Ilyushchenko submitted to the State Duma "the possibility of authorizing the criminal prosecution of State Duma MP Vladimir Zhirinovsky." The document contains excerpts from Zhirinovsky's book 'Last Thrust to the South' (Posledniy Brosok Na Yug), presented as the grounds for a criminal case under article 71 of the Criminal Code (war propaganda). The issue was not discussed by the Duma, since the Credentials Committee did not approve it.

On June 24-29, 1994, the LDPR delegation, led by the Party Chairman, paid a visit to Nizhny Novgorod. Regional Governor Boris Nemtsov was hiding from Zhirinovsky, who was trying to meet him. Unable to find the Governor and his deputies, Zhirinovsky went to Nemtsov's office "to use the government's communication channels and inform the President, the Prime Minister, and the FSK that the regional leaders had disappeared". The next day, Nemtsov claimed that some objects had been stolen from his office following Zhirinovsky's visit. V. Shumeyko, the Federation Council Chairman, addressed State Duma Chairman I. Rybkin to examine Nemtsov's accusation. On July 18, the Committee for State Duma Organization discussed the Nizhny Novgorod incident and pointed out that "both sides have shown contempt for the MP Status Law".

On the eve of the no-confidence motion against the Government in October 1994, the LDPR advocated the resignation of Ministers Andrei Kozyrev, A. Chubais, Shokhin, S. Shahray, and V. Erin. On October 27, 1994, 56 out of 60 faction members approved the no-confidence motion against the Government.

On November 18, 1994, A. Vengerovsky voted in favor of Oleg Ochin's (NRP) proposal to deprive Zhirinovsky of his speech rights for three sessions, as a punishment for calling the Director of Federal Counterintelligence Services (S. Stepashin) a CIA and Mossad agent. An hour later, Vengerovsky changed his mind and his vote.

On November 23, 1994, during the first reading of the new election law, the LDPR faction supported President Boris Yeltsin's proposal to spare Duma-represented organizations the trouble of collecting signatures for the following elections. Other factions rejected this proposal, considering it "as a bribe."

On February 16, 1994, V. Kobelev and Alexander Pronin announced their departure from the parliamentary group. As a reaction, Zhirinovsky called them "rogues and scoundrels". The conflict was resolved the next day: Kobelev said that Zhirinovsky had taken his criticisms into account, while Zhirinovsky said that the incident was deliberately staged to disorient intelligence activities against LDPR. On February 23, V. Kobelev and A. Pronin re-wrote their departure statements. On February 18, 1994, V. Marychev (no. 3 in the election list) announced his possible departure from the faction to protest against the arrogance of LDPR Vice-Speaker Alexander Vengerovsky. Speaking in March 11, 1994, V. Marychev called himself the "Chairman of the sexual minority group", composed of only one member - V. Marychev - and promised to "hunt down and look out" for members of the group. On March 5, 1994, psychotherapist Anatoly Kashpirovskiy officially abandoned the faction (in a fax sent from the US). He accused Zhirinovsky of racism and war propaganda - elements that, according to him, had nothing to do with the Party's pre-election program, which Kashpirovskiy considered quite decent. Upon his return to Russia (in April 1994), Kashpirovskiy decided to return to the LDPR faction.

Some liberal (Gaidar) MPs believed that Zhirinovsky's voters were tricked by "the party's liberal and democratic name". They tried to create an alternative by changing their name from 'Union of December 12' to 'Liberal Democratic Union of December 12' (which remained unregistered due to the small number of members) and elected former Minister of Finance Boris Fyodorov as their leader.
On April 27, 1994, during the group's registration process, it was found out that it included V. Kobelev, A. Pronin, Vladimir Borzyuk, and Vladimir Novikov - all former LDPR members - as well as Tatiana Bulgakova, then still a LDPR member. As soon as June 1994, they abandoned the Liberal Democratic Union of December 12 group and founded the Derzhava ('Power') group, whose program was basically the same as LDPR's.

On February 21, 1995, Vladimir Ustinov (the chairman of the Geopolitics Committee) was expelled from the faction because he submitted, on behalf of the Committee, a draft law to abolish army-drafting delays for some categories of the population. The faction considered it dangerous for its popularity on the eve of elections.

In February 1995, Vladimir Zhirinovsky demanded all members who were attending the Davos meeting, including Zyuganov, to report on what "was agreed with the representatives of foreign services and foreign banks to further the destruction of Russia and the strangling of her economy."

On June 21 and July 1, 1995, the LDPR faction voted in favor of the no-confidence motion against Chernomyrdin's government.

One-Person Party

On April 2, 1994, the 5th LDPR Congress approved the new Party Statutes, appointed Vladimir Zhirinovsky as Chairman for another 10 years, and gave him the sole right to decide on the composition of the LDPR Supreme Council and other internal governing bodies. The Congress Presidium was invited to visit General Vladislav Achalov. With the participation of all the guests, the Congress was transformed into the "World Congress of Slavic peoples." Zhirinovsky was declared the leader of the "Slavic Parliament", and Alexander Sterligov (the chairman of the Russian National Council) was declared the leader of the "Slavic Government."

On April 8, 1994, Zhirinovsky appointed S. Abeltseva, A. Vengerovskiy and S. Zhebrovskiy as members of the Supreme Council and Vice Chairmen of the LDPR.

In May 1994, Vladimir Zhirinovsky signed a Social Pact Agreement, although he put forward a number of conditions (which were ignored by the government) on the eve of the signing. On October 6, 1994, Zhirinovsky declared that the LDPR would abandon the Social Pact Agreement as a protest against the actions of Kemerovo's Regional Governor (Mikhail Kislyuk), who according to Zhirinovsky illegally closed down the Kemerovo airport in order to prevent the landing of the LDPR delegation.

In December 1994, the LDPR supported the government's attempt to take military control of the Chechnya region and condemned the July 1995 peace talks with Chechen leaders, demanding the resumption of full-scale hostilities.

1995 Elections. Almost

In the elections of December 17, 1995, the LDPR obtained 7.737.431 (11,80%) votes, securing the second place and obtaining, under the proportional system, 50 State Duma seats. Another LDPR deputy (Yevgeny Loginov) won a single-seat constituency.

For the Second Duma, under the "package agreement" between factions, the LDPR appointed one of the State Duma Deputy Chairmen and the following Committee Chairmen: Geopolitics (Mitrofanov); Labor and Social Policy (S. Kalashnikov); Industry, Construction, Transport and Energy (V. Gusev); and Information Policy and Communications (Oleg Finko). A member of the LDPR faction, Mikhail Gutseriev, was appointed one of the four State Duma Deputy Chairmen.

In February 1996, A. Vengervskiy resigned from all his official posts in the party. Shortly thereafter, he was expelled from the LDPR and issued a statement declaring that he was abandoning the Duma LDPR faction, but he eventually changed his mind and remained in the group.

When debating the so-called Belavezha Accords in March 1996, the LDPR issued a statement saying that it had been advocating the denunciation of the Belavezha Accords since the opening of the previous Duma, a project which the Communist Party was said to be evading in order to "gain the fame of being the only champion of the Soviet Union's reestablishment." The faction drafted its own decree, which provided for the creation of a parliamentary commission to determine the responsibility of the individuals involved in the drafting of the Belavezha Accords, the admission of "the territories wishing to become part of a new state (...): South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Ajaria, Nagorno-Karabakh, Lezgistan, Talish Republic, Transnistria, North-Eastern Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Eastern and Southern Ukraine, including Crimea, Northern Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan", and the reestablishment of USSR state symbols, "including the reestablishment of the Soviet national anthem." The project wasn't put to the vote because it was submitted too late. The faction voted for projects submitted by left-wing factions and Sergei Baburin.

In the spring of 1998, the LDPR repeatedly changed its position regarding Sergei Kiriyenko's approval as the new Prime Minister, but eventually voted "for".

In the fall of 1998 the LDPR faction voted against Yevgeny Primakov's Prime Minister appointment, but then a LDPR representative (S. Kalashnikov) joined Primakov's government and was appointed Minister of Labor (he retained the post during Sergei Stepashin's government, formed in May 1999, and during Vladimir Putin's government).

In the spring of 1999, the LDPR actively opposed Boris Yeltsin's impeachment. During the voting on May 12, 1999, most LDPR members (except V. Gusev and E. Ischenko) didn't use their voting ballots.

Following Stepashin's resignation in August 1999, 47 LDPR Duma representatives voted for Vladimir Putin's approval as the new Prime Minister; three MPs did not vote.

1996 Presidential Elections

On June 16, 1996, in the first round of the presidential elections, V. Zhirinovsky obtained 4,311,479 votes (5.70%), securing the fifth place after Boris Yeltsin, G. Zyuganov, A. Lebed and G. Yavlinsky. On the eve of the second round, Vladimir Zhirinovsky urged his supporters not to vote for Zyuganov and not to vote "against everyone" - i.e. to vote for Boris Yeltsin or not to vote at all.

In June 1996 the LDPR obtained 3 seats in the Political Advisory Council (PKS), recently created by Boris Yeltsin. The seats were taken by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, S. Zhebrovsky and O. Finko.

1999 Election Problems. 2000 Elections

The 9th LDPR Congress, held on September 11, 1999, approved the party's State Duma electoral list, giving the second place to Krasnoyarsk entrepreneur Anatoly Bykov, who was then wanted for unlawful activities. Following the refusal of the Central Election Commission (on October 10, 1999) to register the LDPR list (due to false information in the property declarations of 82 candidates, including A. Bykov and Mikhail Musatov in the top-three), Vladimir Zhirinovsky decided to create a bloc of satellite organizations without any formal relations to the LDPR. The Bloc's founding congress was held simultaneously with the LDPR Extraordinary Congress on October 13, 1999.

Zhirinovsky's Bloc, as part of the Party for Russia's Spiritual Revival (PDVR: Partii Dukhovnogo Vozrozhdeniya Rossii), and the Russian Union of Free Youth (RSSM: Rossiyskogo Soyuza Svobodnoy Molodezhi) were registered by the Central Election Commission on October 18, 1999. At the same time, the Bloc's federal list and majority districts list were certified. The Bloc's federal list was headed by Zhirinovsky, O. Finko (who for the occasion became PDVR Chairman) and Yegor Solomatin (a LDPR and RSSM member).

In the elections of December 19, 1999, Zhirinovsky's Bloc obtained 3,989,932 votes (5.98%, 5th place) in the Federal District, securing 17 seats under the proportional system. The Duma agreed with the Bloc's decision to call itself LDPR. In January 2000 the parliamentary group registered 17 representatives (M. Gutseriev moved to the Yedinstvo (Unity) faction but Alexander Klyukin, who had been elected as an independent, joined the faction's ranks).

For the distribution of State Duma posts, the LDPR entered into a separate agreement with the majority parties (Yedinstvo and the KRPF) and appointed Konstantin Vetrov as Chairman of the Information Policy Committee.

In the Third Duma, Vladimir Zhirinovsky refused the position of a formal parliamentary LDPR leader in favor of his son Igor Lebedev, but later he was appointed Duma Deputy Chairman, making him an official state leader of delegations traveling abroad. Simultaneously, Zhirinovsky remained the de facto parliamentary group leader, carrying out concomitant duties such as the participation in State Duma Council meetings.

In the presidential elections of March 26, 2000, Vladimir Zhirinovsky obtained an unprecedentedly low result: 2,026,509 votes (2.70%; fifth place after Putin, Zyuganov, Yavlinsky and Aman Tuleyev).

On May 17, 2000, the LDPR faction in the State Duma unanimously voted for Mikhail Kasyanov's Prime Minister candidacy.

The LDPR fraction voted in favor several bills, drafted by Vladimir Putin and the government, to suspend a number of social benefits (April 7, 2000), to change the Federation Council's composition and the principle of "federal intervention" (summer 2000), Part II of the Tax Code (July 2000), to reestablish the Soviet anthem's melody (December 8, 2000), to allow the import of nuclear waste (December 21, 2000), to buy and sell land (January 25, 2001).

The LDPR faction did not vote in January 2001, and in May 2003 the party voted in favor of the no-confidence motion against Kasyanov's government.

2003 Elections - Joining hands with power

The LDPR's slogan for the 2003 Duma elections was "We are for the poor! We are for Russians!". In the elections of December 7, 2003, the LDPR obtained 6,943,885 votes (11.45%, third place, after Yedinaya Rossiya [United Russia] and the Communist Party) and 36 mandates. No LDPR candidate was elected in single-member districts.

On December 29, 2003, Vladimir Zhirinovsky ran for State Duma Chairman and obtained 51 votes (Boris Gryzlov was elected). Zhirinovsky was re-elected as a Duma Deputy Speaker in the Fourth Duma; like all other opposition parties, the LDPR did not obtain a single committee chairmanship.

On September 27, 2003, the LDPR Congress selected Zhirinovsky's henchman Oleg Malyshkin as the party's presidential candidate (in the elections of March 14, 2004, he obtained 2.02% of the votes, ranking fifth out of six).

The 16th (Extraordinary) LDPR Congress was held on December 13, 2004. Zhirinovsky explicitly announced LDPR's willingness to cooperate with Yedinaya Rossiya (United Russia). However, the ruling party, which obtained a 2/3 majority in the Fourth Duma, didn't need the services of an ally as much as in the previous Dumas.

The LDPR faction in the Duma has been like a reserve for the ruling party since the mid-90s. In 1996, LDPR representative Yevgeny Mikhailov was elected Governor of the Pskov Region. In 2004 he was replaced by another LDPR member, Mikhail Kuznetsov. Both joined Yedinstvo/Yedinaya Rossiya after the election. In 2001, former LDPR MP Leonid Markelov was elected President of the Republic of Mari El. In October 1999, during the Second Duma, five LDPR members were involved in an attempt to create a parliamentary pro-government group called Narodnyy Deputat (People's Deputies). In the Third Duma, M. Gutseriev, Alex Guzanov, A. Klyukin, G. Lemeshov and Vladimir Semenkov deflected to Yedinstvo, OVR and the Narodnyy Deputat group. In the Fourth Duma, the following members joined the ER faction: V. Bobyrev, K. Vetrov (later returned to the LDPR), Arsen Kanokov (later Kabardino-Balkaria President), Suleiman Kerimov and Alexander Skorobogatko.

In the spring of 2007, party member Vladimir Churov was selected, under the LDPR quota, for the Central Election Commission (TSIK) and was elected Chairman instead of Alexander Veshnyakov.

On October 31, 2006, Nikolai Kurynovic was expelled from the LDPR faction on charges of "gross systematic violation of factional and party discipline," in particular by participating in the organization of a march that had been banned by Russian authorities.

In August 2007, party member Alexei Mitrofanov - the second member with the highest press coverage rate - abandoned the LDPR and joined the Spravedlivaya Rossiya (Fair Russia) party. On September 5, Zhirinovsky accused Mitrofanov of owing the LDPR 2 million euros, for which (allegedly) there was even a receipt. The news about this Zhirinovsky statement was later removed from the LDPR site.

2003-2007 Regional Elections

The party contested almost all regional elections under the proportional system and ranked third in the number of elected deputies. In 2003 the party was involved in 4 out of 7 campaigns; 3 of them were successful (1 third place and 2 fourth places). In 2004 the party was involved in all 17 campaigns; 11 were successful, including two second places (Arkhangelsk, Sverdlovsk Region). In 2005 the party was involved in 19 out of 20 campaigns; it was successful everywhere except Moscow, where a 10% threshold was established, and it took two second places (Ivanovo, Chukotka). In 2006 the party was involved in all 19 campaigns; it was successful in 11 regions, including the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous District, were it took the second place. In the spring of 2007 the party managed to elect candidates in 12 out of 15 regions, but in most of them ranked fourth, behind the Spravedlivaya Rossiya (Fair Russia) Party.

2007 Elections

LDPR's slogan for the Fifth Duma elections was "Good for Russians - Good for Everybody!". Zhirinovsky says that Putin and the Yedinaya Rossiya (United Russia) party are implementing a late version of the LDPR program and announces a new slogan: "We'll do it better and faster." One of the electoral documents presented during the 19th LDPR Congress accurately reflects the party's position in Russia's political scene: "The party has no permanent allies, acting as an arbitrator in the event of deadlock."

Election results: 5,660,823 votes (8.14%, third place), 40 seats in the Fifth State Duma.

Just like in the previous legislature, Zhirinovsky was elected Deputy Speaker of the Duma. Two party members served as committee chairmen in the Fifth Duma: CIS Affairs (Alexey Ostrovsky) and Youth (Pavel Tarakanov). The LDPR faction was once again headed by Igor Lebedev.

In the Fifth Duma, the LDPR group voted for the 2009 federal budget in all three readings. The faction started to vote against the budget during the first reading of the 2010 budget, and after the first reading of the 2011 budget ceased to participate in budget votings.

The party had disappointing results in the regional elections of December 7, 2007 (in comparison to previous results), losing 5 out of 9 campaigns.

2008 Elections

The slogans for the 20th LDPR Congress were: "You'll pay for everything", "I'll clean up the whole country!" and "I'll calm down everyone!". The Congress nominated Vladimir Zhirinovsky as the party's presidential candidate.

During the Congress, Zhirinovsky promised that under his leadership Russia would consist of 50 regions with 30 million inhabitants each, without any nation-wise division, while also advocating a transition to collective leadership and to a parliamentary system. There is no need for a President - only one government, one administration, and one parliament chamber. A single man is weak, he may be wrong, and 400-500 MPs and 30-40 government members, who will be filtered by political parties, must select the Minister, the Governor, the President; and according to Zhirinovsky they can't fail.

On December 26, 2007, Vladimir Zhirinovsky became the first presidential candidate to be registered by the Central Election Commission. In the elections of March 2, 2008, he took the third place with 9.35% of the votes.

Successor

During the 22nd Congress on December 14, 2009, a new position was introduced: the Head of the party's Supreme Council, who "plans the activities of the LDPR's collegiate body and the implementation of the decisions taken." It set a limit on terms in office - no more than two consecutive terms. Perhaps this was done so as not to introduce such a limitation (as it requires a new version of the Political Parties Law) for the party's permanent chairman Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

On December 21, 2009, it was announced that the Supreme Council had appointed Igor Lebedev as chairman and that the relevant documents had been submitted to the Ministry of Justice.

2008-2011 Regional Elections

Liberal Democrats, like the Communists, took part in all regional parliament elections. In most cases, the lists were headed by Vladimir Zhirinovsky himself.

The LDPR has overcome the established threshold in 43 out of 54 regions, losing mostly in the National Republics (Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, Kalmykia, Chechnya, etc.). In March 2010 the LDPR overcame the threshold in all 8 campaigns, and in October 2010 and March 2011 the party lost only one region (out of 6 and 12 respectively: Tuva and Dagestan).

During the same period, the party only won 4 elections in single-member districts (Khakassia, March 2009; Orenburg region, March 2011 - one seat; Ryazan region, March 2010 - two seats).

By the summer of 2011, the party was represented (under a proportional system) in 60 regions, totaling 177 party representatives (4.48% of the total number of regional deputies)

According to the data provided by Wikipedia, on the day of writing this book, the party comprises 1300 municipal deputies and 47 city council leaders.

International Connections

The party has links with European nationalists and eurosceptics.

Initially, LDPR deputies were nor part of any faction in the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council. There have been attempts to create an independent faction together with Italian national-radicals - the analogue of the "Peoples of Europe" in the European Parliament. During the First Duma, Vladimir Zhirinovsky was one of the two LDPR representatives at PACE. The second was Leonid Slutsky, who soon joined the Socialist faction, where he remains till today. Currently, there are four LDPR representatives at PACE; Zhirinovsky is not included, and all but Slutsky are part of the European Democratic Group, together with Yedinaya Rossiya (United Russia).

2011 Elections

On September 13, 2011, the 23rd LDPR Congress put forward a list of 312 candidates (at the time of registration) headed by Fifth Duma deputies Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Alexei Ostrovsky and Igor Lebedev. The first ten candidates included five other MPs (Jaroslav Nilov, Leonid Slutsky, Valery Seleznev, Dmitry Svischev and Yuri Napso), as well as Alexey Didenko (Assistant to a State Duma deputy; member of the LDPR Supreme Council; born in 1983) and Sergei Kalashnikov (former LDPR Minister of Labor during Primakov's government). Two of the 40 current deputies on the list ran for Yedinaya Rossiya/United Russia (Oleg Kolesnikov) and Spravedlivaya Rossiya/Fair Russia (Dzhamaladin Hasanov). Among acting deputies not included in the list we can find on-the-run banker Ashot Yeghiazaryan, Konstantin Vetrov and Pavel Tarakanov. Colonel Budanov Valery's son headed one of the Moscow groups, while the Irkutsk group was headed by MP Andrei Lugovoi. Maxim Rohmistrov and Sergei Ivanov, some of the most prominent faction representatives, headed their own groups in Moscow and the Moscow region, respectively.

The party's slogan for the 2003 Duma campaign was "We are for the poor, we are for the Russians!". This time, however, the party only used the slogan's second half.

Election results: 11.67% of the votes and 56 Duma seats.

In the Sixth Duma, for the first time since 1999, the LDPR fraction was led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky; Igor Lebedev was put forward for the post of Duma Deputy Chairman. LDPR MPs obtained four committee chairmanships: CIS Affairs - Leonid Slutsky; Health - Sergey Kalashnikov; Public Associations - Alex Ostrovsky; Physical Education, Sports and Youth Affairs - Igor Ananskikh. The LDPR had been promised the Foreign Affairs chairmanship, and when the Yedinaya Rossiya party annulled the agreement, the LDPR faction threatened to boycott the committee voting, but eventually caved in.

Speaking in the Duma, Vladimir Zhirinovsky supported the idea of an early Duma re-election.

For the regional elections of December 4, 2011, the party ran in all 27 regions. It was successful in 26 of these but failed to get a seat in the Mordovia regional parliament, obtaining 2.35% of the votes.

2012 Elections

The 24th Party Congress, held on December 13, 2011, appointed Vladimir Zhirinovsky as LDPR's presidential candidate. He ran for the post for the fifth time. The campaign slogans were "Zhirinovsky, or it will be worse!" and "Zhirinovsky, and it will be better!". According to official figures, he obtained 4,458,103 votes (6.22%).

2012 - 2016

During the 2012 autumn session the LDPR submitted 177 bills to the State Duma. 12 were passed, including laws to restrict access to illegal information on the Internet, laws on NGOs, laws on collaboration with "foreign agents," and laws to postpone the implementation of legal provisions for the approval of healthcare products through state registration.

The 25th LDPR Congress was held on December 13, 2012 (Moscow, SC 'Izmailovo'). It was decided to drop the name 'Russian Liberal Democratic Party' and use the abbreviation 'LDPR'.

The 26th LDPR Congress was held on March 25, 2013 (Krasnogorsk, Crocus City Hall). The Congress elected the LDPR Chairman, the LDPR Supreme Council, and the Central Auditing Commission.

In February 2014, Vladimir Zhirinovsky and the LDPR deputies in the State Duma visited Crimea. There was a campaign for the annexation of Crimea to the Russian Federation.

Between July and September 2014, V. V. Zhirinovsky, I. V. Lebedev, L. E. Slutsky and M. V. Degtyarev were included in the sanction lists of the EU, Canada, Australia and Switzerland for their active support of 'Novorossiya' and the annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol to the Russian Federation.

On December 13, 2014, the party celebrated its 25th anniversary by holding a Pan-Russian Meeting of LDPR activists in Moscow. LDPR chairman V. Zhirinovsky presented a political report to the crowd. In his speech, he called the LDPR the "moderate centrist party."

The 28th LDPR Congress was held in Moscow (LDPR CA) on March 26, 2016. V. V. Zhirinovsky delivered a political report and new Party Statutes were adopted.

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