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The Moscow Times, November 24, 2003

Zhirinovsky Gets Into Fistfight After Televised Election Debate

The Moscow Times

Campaigning politicians got into a fistfight Friday night after a debate on NTV, with liberal and leftist politicians fending off what they described as an attack by Vladimir Zhirinovsky and his bodyguard.

Tensions rose on NTV's the "Freedom of Speech" talk show when Zhirinovsky, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, accused retired General Gennady Shpak of the leftist Homeland party of sending his own son to his death by allowing him to fight in Chechnya.

Well-known economist Mikhail Delyagin lashed out at Zhirinovsky, saying, "This animal has affronted every one present."

In response, Zhirinovsky angrily promised him a beating, yelling, "Stay after the broadcast!"

After the show ended, Zhirinovsky and his bodyguard walked toward Delyagin and ran into Shpak and Yabloko Deputy Sergei Mitrokhin, Mitrokhin told Ekho Moskvy radio.

It was unclear who threw the first blow, but "in the ensuing brawl, deputies Zhirinovsky and Mitrokhin punched each other in the face. Also fighting were economist Delyagin and Shpak," Kommersant reported.

"I hit somebody in the face," Mitrokhin said on Ekho Moskvy. "I can't say whether it was Zhirinovsky or his bodyguard."

The Liberal Democratic Party's press service on Saturday accused Delyagin of provoking the fight, but Zhirinovsky denied that there had even been one. "A lot of people were leaving. There was a big crowd. Somebody probably simply pushed somebody else aside, trying to get out first," he told Ekho Moskvy.

This was the second time during the fall election season that Zhirinovsky has been accused of starting a fight; he tried to hit Andrei Savelyev of Homeland during a commercial break in a Nov. 11 debate on Rossia television, local media reported.

After the latest incident, liberal Union of Right Forces party leader Boris Nemtsov and Mitrokhin are calling for Zhirinovsky to be banned from participating in future debates.


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Elections to the State Duma, 2003

The Moscow Times, November 24, 2003

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