| 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.
the original at
Elections to the State Duma,