Slurs & water fly at Russian presidential debate as Lib Dem leader faces off with Sobchak
A presidential debate on Russian TV saw the nationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky verbally assaulting socialite-turned-politician Kseniya Sobchak, who responded by pouring a glass of water over her rival.
A discussion focusing on Russia’s Armed Forces and other defense issues unexpectedly spiraled into bickering between the two political opponents during a speech from Sergey Baburin. Zhirinovsky, the leader of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party, interrupted Baburin, provoking criticism from Sobchak, who called on him to calm down.
Her appeal, however, apparently had an opposite effect, as it only infuriated the veteran politician. “One should not have brought a fishwife from the street here. This is filth! It is ‘Dom-2’ [the House-2] where all the depravity is!” the politician shouted in a spat of anger, referring to a highly controversial reality TV show, which Sobchak once hosted. He then proceeded to denounce the magazine editor, TV host and socialite as a “dumb fool of a woman.”
Sobchak then responded with some jibes of her own, but she eventually decided to resort to an apparently more persuasive tool from her standpoint. She grabbed a glass of water and threw it in her opponent’s face. She also said she was using Zhirinovsky’s “own methods” while doing this. That move only led to another outburst of anger from Zhirinovsky, and eventually prompted the TV debate host to intervene and restore order.
Zhirinovsky, who is known for his often provocative remarks, is no stranger to controversy. On one occasion back in 1995, he scolded the then-Nizhny Novgorod governor, the late Boris Nemtsov, and threw a glass of juice at him only to get douched in return.
The Russian presidential elections are scheduled for March 18. The incumbent Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, is running for another term, competing against seven other contenders participating in the race. Apart from Zhirinovsky, who represents his Liberal Democratic party, and Sobchak, who positions herself as an option for those willing to fill the no-longer-existing ‘none of the above’ line on the ballot papers, the list of the candidates includes businessman Pavel Grudinin, who is backed by the largest opposition Communist Party, Boris Titov, a Russian business Ombudsman and head of the Party of Growth, and Grigory Yavlinsky, the liberal Yabloko Party co-founder, among others.