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July 31, 1994|CHARLES SOLOMON

ABSOLUTE ZHIRINOVSKY: A Transparent View of the Distinguished Russian Statesman by Graham Frazer & George Lancelle (Penguin: $7.95; 157 pp., paperback original). British journalists Frazer and Lancelle combine trenchant analysis with excerpts from Vladimir Zhirinovsky's speeches and writings in an alarming study of the ultra-nationalist politician who won 24% of the vote in the 1993 Russian elections. Zhirinovsky veers between shameless demagoguery and blatant lunacy: He threatens to use nuclear weapons to blackmail Germany, claims the "right" to shoot 100,000 people after his election to ensure the peace and demands control of Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey. The authors note that the popular comparison between Russia and Weimar Germany is inapt. Even in 1932, Germany had a powerful economy; the Russian industrial base is inefficient and mismanaged, making any relief of the confusion and suffering there unlikely--and increasing the appeal of Zhirinovsky's right-wing insanity.

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