In case of Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s long illness, possible successors as party leader are being discussed. Among the candidates for the post are an interlocutor in the State Duma and two sources close to the presidential administration (AP), named Mikhail Degtyarev. He in the early 2000s. He began his career in the youth organization of the Unity Party in the Samara region, but was elected to the regional and then to the State Duma from the Liberal Democratic Party, in 2021 he became governor of Khabarovsk Krai from Zhirinovsky’s party, gaining 56% of the vote.
In case it is necessary to elect Degtyarev as the chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party, options for returning him to Moscow are being worked out, says the interlocutor in Okhotny Ryad. But the decision is still far away, says another interlocutor of “Vedomosti” close to the State Duma.
The second candidate is Andrei Lugovoi, Vedomosti sources say. As in the case of Degtyarev, the beginning of his political career is not connected with Zhirinovsky. He was first elected to the State Duma in 2007, right from the second line of the LDPR’s election list. This happened after the death in 2006 of FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko, who fled to Britain. According to media reports, Litvinenko cooperated with British intelligence MI6, accusing Lugovoi of poisoning Scotland Yard.
Among other candidates, according to a source in the State Duma and a source close to the AP, the head of the Duma Committee on Labor Yaroslav Nilov and the head of the Committee on Regional Policy Alexei Didenko. They both began their political careers in the Liberal Democratic Party. These two candidates are being discussed, but are less preferable, according to a source close to the AP, Vedomosti.
An interlocutor close to the AP says that the question of a new leader of the Liberal Democratic Party was raised before the parliamentary elections of 2021, but has now become more relevant. According to him, all four above-mentioned representatives of the Liberal Democratic Party are on the bench. “But in any case, it will all be an unequal replacement for Zhirinovsky,” he said.
It is impossible to talk about any one candidate as a priority, because the final decision has not been made, says a Vedomosti source in state structures, noting among the “first persons” of the Liberal Democratic Party who can be nominated, not only Lugovoi and Nilov, but also the Duma committee chairman. on international affairs Leonid Slutsky (also began his career outside the LDPR) and one of Zhirinovsky’s closest associates – the governor of the Smolensk region Alexei Ostrovsky (although in 2021 he was not included in the LDPR party lists in the State Duma elections). All Vedomosti interlocutors in the Liberal Democratic Party say that no legal steps are being taken to prepare for the change of party leader. While it is unethical to raise and formalize the issue, the party members emphasize and express hope that Zhirinovsky will “get back in shape” again, as one of them told Vedomosti.
Vedomosti sent a request to Degtyarev’s press service. Nilov told Vedomosti that “it is unethical to discuss such things”: “God bless Zhirinovsky! If someone is discussing such things, then time will still put everything in its place. ” Didenko declined to comment, but “wished Zhirinovsky a speedy recovery.” Lugovoi declined to comment.
There are no talks about changing the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, for everyone in the party Zhirinovsky is the undisputed leader and everyone is optimistic, says LDPR spokesman Alexander Dupin. According to him, now Zhirinovsky’s condition is severe, but stable: “He no longer has a coronavirus. Now there are the consequences provoked by the coronavirus, their treatment takes time, the body needs recovery, and doctors use different techniques. We do not speak in principle about how he is treated. ” In the party, “no one stutters” about Zhirinovsky’s successors, because he remains an indisputable authority for all, says Dupin. Dupin does not disclose who is currently in contact with Zhirinovsky, but notes that decisions are made collectively by the party’s supreme council.
“Nilov is the most experienced parliamentarian among the named politicians. Degtyarev is the most prestigious, but as governor he won in a completely cleared field. Meadow is the most famous and scandalous. But in general, Zhirinovsky is irreplaceable, “said Boris Makarenko, president of the Center for Political Technologies.
The parties usually unite around a common ideology, and the Liberal Democratic Party was formed around Zhirinovsky, the leading party, says the head of the Civil Society Development Foundation Konstantin Kostin. “First of all, Zhirinovsky’s specific political communication was in demand among the voters,” he said. During the 30 years of the party’s existence, he had diametrically opposed views: “From the need for a monarchy to democracy.” Therefore, Zhirinovsky’s successor could offer the possibility of the same specific communication as he, Kostin believes.
Zhirinovsky has been in hospital since February 2. On March 25, the Telegram channel Mash reported his death, citing anonymous sources, which was immediately refuted. “He is [Жириновский] alive. His condition is really serious. Today he had a CT scan. We are worried about him, doctors are fighting for him, “said State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin. Dmitry Peskov, the president’s spokesman, denied this information.