Who is Leonid Slutsky, the new leader of the ultra-nationalist party?

Last Friday, he was unanimously elected to succeed the late Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the symbolic founder of the Russian ultra-nationalist party, Leonid Slutsky, as its new leader. The State Duma deputy, who says he wants to “strengthen the social policy of the Liberal Democratic Party,” was among the figures targeted by European sanctions after the 2014 annexation of Crimea. He has also been targeted on accusations of sexual harassment and corruption.

Under the symbolism of Vladimir Zironovsky, who died last April for a long time, he is now responsible. Deputy Leonid Slutsky was chosen on Friday, May 27 to lead the Russian ultra-nationalist party, the Liberalno-Democratic, Chestka, Bartia Rossi or the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR).

The head of the Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee, the lower house of the Russian parliament, Leonid Slutsky, was part of the Moscow delegation during the recent peace negotiations with Kyiv, which have been on hold since March.

And exercises on her account on Telegram indicated that Leonid Slutsky, 54, had been elected “unanimously” at a conference in Moscow. He was the only candidate.

“Leonid Slutsky has been unanimously elected as the new head of the Liberal Democratic Party,” the party wrote on its Twitter account. “The Liberal Democratic Party will continue the work of the founder of the party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and will continue to work for the benefit of Greater Russia!”


Leonid Slutsky, after his election, stressed that “the strategy of the LDP remains the same.” “The only thing is that it will be modified in the direction of solving the tasks set on the ground aimed at strengthening the social policy of the LDP,” his party said on Twitter.

An economist by training, he has been a member of Parliament since 2000. To date, No. 2 in the LDPR, his name is linked to several issues, from Western sanctions against Russia after the annexation of Crimea to accusations of sexual harassment, including corruption revelations.

sexual harassment

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 imposed sanctions on Russia, targeting 21 individuals – including Leonid Slutsky – by preventing them from traveling to the EU and freezing their financial assets.

In February and March 2018, the deputy found himself at the center of a scandal. Leonid Slutsky is accused of sexual harassment by several Russian journalists, accusations that are rare in Russia, a country that lags far behind in combating gender-based violence, where the latter is rarely the subject of investigations.

Journalists, including Farida Rustamova, who was working for the BBC’s Russian service at the time, accused Leonid Slutsky of obscene and touching remarks, breaking the silence on a topic still largely taboo in Russia. At the time, the deputy described the accusations as “cheap and low-level provocations” and described them as a political attack ordered by his enemies, considering that the scandal “increased its strength.” [ma] dignity instead of taking it away.”

The latter was eventually approved by the State Duma’s Ethics Committee, which said it found no signs of “inappropriate behaviour”.

corruption

In the same year, the statements of the deputy entered the attention of the anti-corruption institution created by the Russian opponent Alexei Navalny.

The foundation has documented how the wife of Leonid Slutsky bought a luxury Bentley car, the cost of which was more than 300 thousand dollars, the purchase of which appears to have been financed by an interest-free loan of 25 million rubles ($ 440,000) from the Azerbaijani billionaire promoter.

According to Alexei Navalny, the loan was associated with lobbying for the billionaire’s interests in Moscow and was conducted by another State Duma deputy, a prominent ally of the former Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov.

Alexei Navalny’s investigation also revealed that Leonid Slutsky’s luxury Mercedes-Maybach had accumulated, in less than a year, 825 unpaid fines, especially for dangerous driving, which the new head of LDPR admitted in an interview with Snob magazine, a website It targets Russian economic and cultural elites. “I don’t buy luxury goods,” he said. “I’d rather spend the money on something more important. For example, on renovating churches.”

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

“Not a peaceful year”

The Liberal Democratic Party, founded by Vladimir Zhirinovsky in 1992 and centered around its historical leader until his recent death, in particular, is often viewed by foreign media as a populist, nationalist or ultra-nationalist party. He received 7.55% of the vote in the 2021 legislative elections, behind the Communists (18.93%) and Vladimir Putin’s party (49.82%).

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

But the LDP is accused of playing the role of the front-line opposition, which ultimately always lines up behind Vladimir Putin’s major decisions.

The anti-Western ideas of Vladimir Zhirinovsky, obsessed with the grandeur of Russia, which seemed extreme in the 1990s, gradually imposed themselves in Russian public life, including in the Kremlin.

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

with AFP

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