Zhirinovsky: When One Wife Is Not Enough
Published: February 6, 2001 (Issue # 642)
For The St. Petersburg Times
Zhirinovsky fighting with Duma deputy Irina Tishkovska in January 1996. He later claimed she 'just wanted to be close' to him.
Duma Deputy Speaker and leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia Vladimir Zhirinovsky has actively crusaded for the legalization of polygamy in Russia. In spite of his heated arguments based on Russia's demographic decline, Zhirinovsky failed to find enough support among his fellow deputies in the State Duma. He spoke to Kester Klomegah about his cause. Q: Your political party raised the issue of legalizing polygamy in Russia. What were your motivations for this move?
A: Everyone is greatly concerned about the deepening demographic crisis in our country. President Vladimir Putin also raised this issue in his Children's Day address last June and called for a radical approach to arrest the crisis. So it was not on a lark that the LDPR proposed legalizing polygamy. We came up with the correct approach to the problem. The Russian Constitution allows us to change the Family Code. But every time amendments are proposed in the Duma, our lawmakers get confused. They don't know what to do. Polygamy and polyandry are already practised illegally, why not legalize it?
Q: You first raised this issue in 1996, and back then the Duma was not interested in supporting it.
A: Actually, it was during the parliamentary election campaign in 1993 that I raised this issue to boost the numbers of the dwindling Russian population. I know where this country is heading. So far there has been little open support for my proposal, but I know for sure that privately many deputies are in favor of it. They secretly support the idea. If they do not openly support me, the population will soon disappear.
Q: How do you hope to get a majority in the Duma to support your proposal?
A: Everyone says the demographic situation is catastrophic. We as lawmakers have to analyze the Family Code in relation to this problem. They [the deputies] are not looking at the problem the way they should. In the next five to 10 years, when the population shrinks by a third, they will overwhelmingly vote for amendments to the Family Code and legalize polygamy and polyandry.
Q: Maybe the question should be put to the people in a referendum?
A: You think I am afraid of the people? Many people are trying to survive loneliness in our society. I know for sure they'll say yes.
Q: Are you sure there are no political motives behind the polygamy proposal?
A: There are no real political motives. This is not a move for cheap populism. There are political rivalries in the Duma; other parties envy the LDPR. That's why they react negatively to my party's initiatives.
Q: Have Russian demographers said the practice of polygamy will help thousands of Russian women who are without husbands?
A: We know there are 9 million fewer men than women throughout the country, and we obviously need to stimulate the birth rate. But how? They [the demographers] do not say how. Instead, they keep bombarding us with their estimates of pensioners outnumbering the working population in 2010.
Q: Do you think that the LDPR's polygamy proposal will really help when there are already so many broken families?
A: In Soviet times, families enjoyed considerable support. After the collapse [of the Soviet Union], President Boris Yeltsin lost control of state affairs. He laid the political and economic foundation for broken families and suffering children. As for President Putin - we will see.
Q: Isn't it true that the majority of Russian men are too poor to support one family, let alone several wives?
A: We propose placing limits to exclude men who cannot provide for more than one family. Ten percent of the male population in Russia can provide for several families, and hundreds of thousands of Russian men have families with children abroad - in Thailand, Germany, Greece, Spain, the United States, etc. Women should not go for those men who are lazy, drunk and incapable of fathering a family. If a healthy, strong and handsome man can feed two or more families, why shouldn't he?
Q: Do you perceive other social problems may arise as a result of the legalization of polygamy?
A: What social problems could arise? Millions of Russian women will obtain their legal status [as wives], and they will not feel abandoned by their husbands. By the way, a poll among Russia's female population showed they are in favor of the legislation.
Q: To which poll are you referring?
A: You're married, but you ask any woman if she would like to marry you, and she will say yes. The newspapers are full of personal advertisements, mostly from women in search of men. We are talking about these lonely hearts.
Q: When the regional leader of Ingushetia, Ruslan Aushev, signed a decree permitting men in his republic to have four wives [later declared unconstitutional by Moscow], he based that on traditional Islamic beliefs. But Russian society is based on Orthodox beliefs. How can this be reconciled?
A: Aushev did the right thing. That way of life was established long ago over there, where they live in big families and help each other. As for the Russian Orthodox Church, if it's against polygamy, then it's against humanity and the nation's survival. Instead, they will pray when the population is nearly extinct.
Q: What's your reaction to Justice Minister Pavel Krasheninnikov's opposition to your polygamy proposal?
A: He doesn't understand the society in which we live. This is an idea that is gradually becoming cherished by Russians. We [the LDPR] would like to introduce changes in federal legislation to eliminate barriers preventing the establishment of normal relations between men and women. By the way, this may not necessarily allow only for multiple wives, but for multiple husbands as well. And nobody will call her [a woman with many husbands] a vulgar woman.
Q: Would it not be more appropriate to come up with a different approach to halt the decline of the population?
A: This is a catastrophe, shame to a Russian government that allows its population to decrease while it makes tanks, rockets, spaceships and allows fast-food chains to proliferate. The same thing happened in America, but now they have learned their lesson along with the decline of the white population. Soon, America will be ruled by the rapidly growing population of African-Americans and Latin Americans.
Q: What is the position of the State Duma committee on women, families and youth in regard to your proposal?
A: The communists [dominating this committee] always oppose the Liberal Democratic Party. They were against it because communists don't support families.
Svetlana Goryacheva, committee chairwoman, understands Russia's demographic problems - among them a daily decline in the population of 1,000 people per day. But she has not outlined any appropriate measures. She got the Duma to reject the proposal; only 21 legislators voted for it and 271 opposed.
Q: Back during your 1993 parliamentary campaign, you offered to father a child by any Russian woman in order to boost the numbers of the "dwindling Russian race." Do you have a personal interest in polygamy?
A: I am interested in seeing Russian women liberated from loneliness, and only polygamy can guarantee this.