Russian national airline christens Boeing 737 in the name of a right-wing extremist

Vladimir Zhirinovsky made headlines around the world with brawls in parliament, anti-Western rhetoric and racism. Now the Russian national airline Aeroflot is honoring the deceased politician and right-wing extremist, who was also highly controversial in Russia, on a Boeing 737.

Artists, scientists, sports greats or aviation legends – Aeroflot has so far given most of its aircraft their names. The fleet of the Russian national airline includes a Boeing 777-300 ER named after pianist Alexander Scriabin, a 737-800 named after writer Chinghiz Aitmatov and an Airbus A350 named after composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. An A321 bears the name of basketball star Sergei Belov and an A320 that of Air Force pilot Belyayev.

Russian national airline christens Boeing 737 in the name of a right-wing extremist

Now, however, the airline is paying tribute to a man who is also highly controversial in Russia. Despite Western sanctions, it is bringing in two additional Western aircraft. The two Boeing 737-900 ER are leased from the state leasing company GTLK. From mid-July they will initially be operated by the subsidiary Rossiya and will switch to Aeroflot at the end of the high season.

One of these Boeing 737-900 is named after the poet Gavrila Derzhavin. So in the tradition up to now. The other, however, gets the baptismal name of Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who died in 2022, as the Tass news agency writes.

In 1990, with the help of the KGB, the politician founded what was only the second party in the Soviet Union – as a kind of puppet party to pacify certain sections of the population. His Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) called itself a centrist, but was classified by independent sources as nationalist-right-wing populist to right-wing extremist. Andrei Kolesnikov of Moscow’s Carnegie Center think-tank describes Zhirinovsky’s opinions as “classically far-right, semi-fascist views.”

Zhirinovsky used anti-Western rhetoric, spoke of the “preservation of the white race”

For decades, Zhirinovsky was one of the most well-known figures in Russian politics. He repeatedly made national and international headlines with his xenophobic remarks and public behavior, including brawls in parliament and on television talk shows. Using anti-Western rhetoric, he spoke of the “preservation of the white race” and talked about expanding Russia’s borders to Poland and Finland and finally to the Indian Ocean.

The studied philosopher also publicly threatened to have his political opponents shot if he were elected president. However, he was never able to win more than 10 percent of the votes. Zhirinovsky recently wished for the dissolution of all parties and the appointment of a “Supreme Ruler”. One thing is clear: his party was not a real opposition, but always remained loyal to those close to President Vladimir Putin. In this respect, the honor fits into the current environment of the Kremlin.

Jean Harris

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