Russian ultranationalist cancels trip to Germany furor cited

December 23, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

BERLIN -- Russia's neo-fascist political star Vladimir V. Zhirinovsky abruptly canceled yesterday a planned three-day visit to Germany amid a wave of public and political resistance here to the prospect of his presence in the country.

Mr. Zhirinovsky had been invited to Germany by the private television station RTL in Cologne to appear on an interview program yesterday.

Once plans for the interview became known, politicians from all major national parties in the German capital of Bonn demanded that the program be canceled, and some questioned whether the Russian political figure should even be allowed into the country.

Mr. Zhirinovsky Liberal Democratic Party captured more than 20 percent of the vote in Russia's parliamentary elections Dec. 12, a result that has instantly transformed the 47-year-old ultranationalist demagogue into a significant force in the new Parliament, with an estimated 66 seats in the 450-seat lower house going to his party.

The moderator of the German interview program, Guenter Jauch, said he had hoped to confront the Russian ultranationalist with some of his more aggressive statements, including a threat RTC made two years ago that he would not hesitate to create "new Hiroshimas and Nagasakis" in Germany if the Germans made what he called "a wrong move" toward Russia.

Mr. Zhirinovsky reportedly canceled the trip to Germany after hearing of the political reaction and also after learning that he would not be appearing on the program alone.

According to RTL, an interview with former Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev would have been included in the program, and Mr. Zhirinovsky would also have faced a prominent German expert on Russia, Wolfgang Leonard.

Mr. Zhirinovsky went skiing in the Alps yesterday and boasted that he would win his country's presidency next year. His host was Edwin Neuwirth, 67, a bankrupt timber dealer and unabashed Nazi.

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