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Vladimir Zhirinovsky voting electronically during a visit to Russia’s election headquarters in September © Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a veteran of Russian post-Soviet politics known for his ultranationalist views and inflammatory speeches, has died after a long illness, the parliament speaker has said.

Zhirinovsky, 76, a central political figure and leader of the Liberal Democratic Party faction in the Russian parliament, died after a “serious and long illness”, the speaker of the lower house of the Russian parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, said on Wednesday. .

Zhirinovsky was hospitalized in early February with Covid-19, the health ministry reported at the time.

Outspoken and often highly controversial, Zhirinovsky represented what analysts called the “systemic opposition” in Russia, a group of political parties whose opposition to Vladimir Putin’s ruling United Russia party in parliament was tolerated by the Kremlin. This contrasts with the likes of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, whose opposition movement has been deemed “extremist” and banned.

“The figure he hit was so large that without him it is difficult to imagine the history of the development of the political system of modern Russia,” Volodin said.

In December, Zhirinovsky gave a speech in which he predicted the start of the Ukrainian war almost to the hour.

“At 4 a.m. on February 22, you will feel [our new policy]Zhirinovsky said in December. War broke out at dawn on February 24. I would like 2022 to be peaceful. It won’t be peaceful,” said Zhirinovsky, an admirer of former US President Donald Trump, at the time.

Media in late March quoted an LDPR party member as saying that Zhirinovsky was dead, but the media retracted the news after Volodin said he was in fact ill but alive.

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