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Meet Russia's Donald Trump

Donald Trump has been roundly criticized for his allegedly close ties to Russia. Most of that focus, from the Clinton campaign and even some GOP leaders, comes via Trump's own words praising Russia's President Vladimir Putin as a "strong leader."

And although comparisons have been made between Trump and Putin, a more accurate correlation may be made between Trump and the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

Though he's not the most famous Russian politician on the global stage, I knew who Vladimir Zhirinovsky was at an age when most kids knew nothing about politics.

Not because a six year old was particularly interested in Russia's partisan electorate back in the 1990s, but because the bombastic leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) was a staple of conversation in so many Russian-American households like mine. My family immigrated to the United States from the Soviet Union in 1991, as religious and political refugees, and settled in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

Zhirinovsky, or "Zhirik," as he's known to Russians, was a force of nature who made headlines, usually, for all the wrong reasons. We were constantly speculating on his next move: Who would "Zhirik" go off on this time, who would he punch in the Duma halls? (It actually happened more than once).

The only predictable thing about him was his tendency to, for lack of a better phrase, flip out.

His signature line with all those with whom he disagreed being "Von Otsyda" (get out of here). That phrase was always delivered with loud screams and flailing hand gestures.

He has sparred with everyone from famous Russian singer Alla Pugachova to former opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was famously gunned down in February 2015 in Moscow.

"Zhirinovsky, or "Zhirik," as he's known to Russians, was a force of nature who made headlines, usually, for all the wrong reasons. We were constantly speculating on his next move: Who would "Zhirik" go off on this time, who would he punch in the Duma halls?"

Despite his few failed presidential runs dating back to Russia's first election in 1991, Zhirinovsky has repeatedly threatened to throw opponents (whether they be political or cultural) in jail, "when I become president."

Sound familiar? During the second presidential debate and in response to Hillary Clinton's remarks about being relieved that Trump was not in charge of the rule of law in this country, Trump shot back: "Because you'd be in jail."

Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, Zhirik suggested that taking Crimea wasn't enough and that perhaps Ukraine should be divided even further along, more specifically, around the Nazi-Soviet pact lines.

"It's never too late to correct historical errors," Zhirinovsky proclaimed.

Another historical error in his mind? He's determined to get Alaska back from the U.S.

Though he considers his main enemies those who support pro-Western policies and values, he's also railed against Russia's own leaders like Nikita Kruschev, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Boris Yelstin.

Most recently, the leader of LDPR made headlines by warning the citizens of the United States that if they do not vote for Trump in the presidential election, they risk nuclear war.

More specifically, a Clinton presidency could spark World War 3.

"Americans voting for a president on Nov. 8 must realize that they are voting for peace on Planet Earth if they vote for Trump. But if they vote for Hillary, it's war. It will be a short movie. There will be Hiroshimas and Nagasakis everywhere," he told Reuters.

Zhirinovsky has even said that he wants a DNA test to see if he is related to Trump. Literally related or not, some of their words and actions strike an eerily similar tone.

"Trump will have a brilliant chance to make relations more peaceful ... He's the only one who can do this," Zhirinovsky said, echoing Trump's own statements that he and he alone can fix problems in this country.

Zhirinovsky's words come at a time when U.S. officials continue to blame Russia for numerous breaches into the U.S. electoral process, either through hacks into state voter registration systems or into Democratic officials' emails.

NBC recently reported that the CIA was preparing for a possible cyber strike against Russia.

Zhrinovsky, a Putin ally, was recently awarded a state honor in Russia.

And, while the U.S. prides itself on a political system that is more sophisticated and more free than Russia's, the Trump phenomenon is a reminder that such things can change in the blink of an eye.


Commentary by Dina Gusovsky, a reporter for CNBC. Follow her on Twitter @DinaGusovsky.

For more insight from CNBC contributors, follow @CNBCopinion on Twitter.