Ultranationalist Russian lawmaker and five-time presidential candidate Vladimir Zhirinovsky, notorious for his outrageous invective, parliamentary brawls, and donkeys, has unveiled a statue of himself, dedicated to his 70th birthday.
It's a three-meter bronze figure of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) founder standing and gazing confidently toward the horizon, his right arm bent at the elbow and held against his torso. It was unveiled in the courtyard of the Institute of World Civilization, the nonprofit school established by Zhirinovsky in Moscow in 1999.
An arch-nationalist with a record of expansionist rhetoric and anti-Semitism before his Jewish roots were revealed, Zhirinovsky said he never expected to see a statue in his honor and expressed pride at what he described as a "gift" from its caster, Tbilisi-born sculptor and Russian Academy of Arts President Zurab Tsereteli.
"Tsereteli made this gift for me not because I am a scientist or an athlete, but because I am a politician and a party leader," Zhirinovsky said on Instagram. "I therefore suggest naming it 'LDPR deed cast in bronze.'"
Zhirinovsky co-founded the LDPR under still-unclear circumstances in the dying days of the Soviet Union (as its first official opposition party) and subsequently excelled at creating headline-grabbing political spectacles. He has run five times for the Russian presidency, peaking at 9.35 percent of the vote in 2008. His party initially fared even better, with nearly 23 percent in 1993 parliamentary elections, and mixed results ever since.
In the latest campaign, his slogans included "Zhirinovsky, or it'll get worse" and "Zhirinovsky and it'll get better."
Russian Twittersphere mocked the Zhirinovsky sculpture.
"Fat Zhirinovsky unveiled a statue of thin Zhirinovsky in Moscow. This is all of Russia's cultural and political life," the @StalinGulag mock account wrote.
"Your face when the sculpture is smarter than you," @Baturyna_Elena wrote.
Some suggested that a different image of Zhirinovsky was worth casting in bronze: