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The Daily Vertical: Zhirinovsky's Russia (Transcript)

There's something disturbingly appropriate about a statue of Vladimir Zhirinovsky being erected in Moscow.

After all, the man who once threatened to build giant fans to blow radioactive waste over the Baltic states, was once seen as a fringe figure.

Now he's mainstream.

The bombastic lawmaker who once predicted that Russian soldiers would wash their feet in the Indian Ocean was once seen as a loon.

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Now he's seen as respectable.

When in the wake of the Brussels attacks Zhirinovsky said on national television that terrorism in Europe benefits Russia -- ranting "let them die and die" -- many believed he was channeling the Kremlin elite's deepest, darkest beliefs.

Zhirinovsky is more than a buffoon. He's more than a caricature of the regime. And he's more than a court jester who says the things respectable officials believe but can't say out loud.

No. He's more than that. He's a messenger. He's an oracle. And his words are often harbingers.

Back in March 2000 on the night Vladimir Putin was first elected president, Zhirinovsky gave an impromptu press conference at the Central Electoral Commission in Moscow.

He sneered at the journalists, smiled, and said: "It's 30 minutes to the end of democracy, and you're all on the list."

Everybody laughed. Nobody's laughing anymore.

Now they're all living in Zhirinovsky's Russia.

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