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.