who is Leonid Sloutski, the new leader of the ultranationalist party?

Unanimously elected on Friday to take over after the late Vladimir Zhirinovsky, emblematic founder of the LDPR, the Russian ultranationalist party, Leonid Sloutski becomes its new leader. The Duma’s deputy, who says he wants to “strengthen the LDPR’s social policy”, was among the figures targeted by European sanctions following the annexation of Crimea in 2014. He has also been accused of sexual harassment and corruption.

Long in the shadow of the emblematic Vladimir Jironovski, who died in April last year, he is now in charge. Deputy Leonid Sloutski was elected on Friday 27 May to lead the Russian ultranationalist party, the Liberalno-democratitchestkaïa Partia Rossii or the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR).

The head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, Leonid Slutsky was part of the Moscow delegation during the recent peace talks with Kiev, the talks have stalled since March.

On his Telegram account, the training indicated that Leonid Sloutski, 54, had been elected “unanimously” at a congress in Moscow. He was the only candidate.

“Leonid Sloutski has been unanimously elected new president of the LDPR,” the party wrote on its Twitter account. “The LDPR will continue to work for the party’s founder, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and will continue to work for the benefit of Greater Russia!”


“The strategy of the Liberal Democratic Party remains the same,” Léonid Sloutski stressed after the election. “The only thing is that it will be modified in the direction of solving the tasks that are put on the ground and aimed at strengthening the social policy of the Liberal Democratic Party,” his party reports on Twitter.

Educated as an economist, he has been a member of parliament since 2000. Until now, number 2 in the LDPR, his name is associated with several cases, ranging from Western sanctions against Russia following the annexation of Crimea to allegations of sexual harassment, including revelations of corruption.

Sexual violation

In 2004, after sending Russian troops to take control of Crimea, Moscow organized a referendum to justify the annexation of the region. In response, the European Union (EU) imposed sanctions on Russia, targeting 21 personalities – including Leonid Sloutski – by banning them from traveling within the EU and freezing their financial assets.

In February and March 2018, the MP found himself at the heart of a scandal. Leonid Sloutski is accused of sexual harassment by several Russian journalists, accusations rare in Russia, a country that lags far behind in the fight against gender-based violence, where the latter is rarely the subject of investigation.

Journalists, including Farida Rustamova, who at the time worked for the BBC Russian Service, accused Leonid Sloutsky of lewd remarks and touching, of breaking the silence on a topic that is largely still taboo in Russia. At the time, the MP called the accusations a “cheap low-level provocation” and dismissed them as a political attack ordered by his enemies, even saying that the scandal was “strengthened [ma] dignity rather than taking it away. “

The latter was eventually approved by the Duma’s ethics committee, which said it found no evidence of “inappropriate behavior”.

Corruption

That same year, the deputy’s income statements attract the attention of the Anti-Corruption Fund set up by Russian opponent Alexei Navalny.

The fund had documented how Leonid Slutsky’s wife bought a luxury Bentley, a car that cost more than $ 300,000, the purchase of which appeared to have been financed by an interest-free loan of 25 million rubles ($ 440,000) from an Azerbaijani billionaire promoter.

According to Alexei Navalny, the loan was linked to lobbying for the billionaire’s interests in Moscow and was made through another Duma legislator, a top ally of former Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov.

Alexei Navalny’s investigation had also revealed that a luxury Mercedes-Maybach belonging to Leonid Sloutski in less than a year had accumulated 825 unpaid fines, mainly for dangerous driving, which the new head of LDPR had admitted in an interview with Snob magazine, a website directed against Russian economic and cultural elites. “I do not buy luxury goods,” he said. “I prefer to spend money on something more substantial. For example, on the restoration of churches.”

After the election on Friday, he promised to “strengthen” his party’s social program, according to TASS.

“Not a peaceful year”

The LDPR, founded in 1992 by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and centered around its historical leader until his recent death, is often regarded, especially by the foreign media, as a populist, nationalist or ultranationalist party. He won 7.55% of the vote in the 2021 parliamentary elections, behind the Communists (18.93%) and Vladimir Putin’s party (49.82%).

Listed on the far right, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who died in April at the age of 74, had participated in almost all the presidential elections in modern Russia. His party has always been represented and clearly visible in local and national bodies.

However, the LDPR is accused of playing the role of front-runner, who ultimately always stands behind Vladimir Putin’s big decisions.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s anti-Western ideas, obsessed with Russia’s greatness and which seemed extreme in the 1990s, have gradually penetrated Russian public life, including the Kremlin.

At the end of 2021, Vladimir Zhirinovsky predicted that the year 2022 “will not be a peaceful year, it will be the year in which Russia will once again become a power”, thus announcing the military intervention in Ukraine.

With AFP

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