Vladimir Putin has taken his ‘nuclear football’ to the funeral of a far-right politician in a Moscow cathedral today, raising fears of a potential attack.

The Russian leader was accompanied by a man in a suit carrying the briefcase which can launch an attack remotely, during the open casket ceremony for ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

Mourners were also cleared away when the president paid his respects to Zhirinovsky, showing his fears of an assassination attempt at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a farewell ceremony for the late leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) Vladimir Zhirinovsky

Putin took his 'nuclear football' to the funeral in a Moscow cathedral today, raising fears of a potential attack

Putin took his ‘nuclear football’ to the funeral in a Moscow cathedral today, raising fears of a potential attack

‘For Vladimir Putin, the hall where people bade farewell to Zhirinovsky was completely emptied of people – even from relatives on chairs,’ reported Telegram channel VCHK-OGPU. 

Putin held a bunch of red roses and placed them at the foot of the coffin before making the sign of the cross.

At the same time, his troops carried out their latest savage attack on Ukraine, killing 30 civilians and injuring 100 in a rocket strike on a railway station. 

The strike was on Kramatorsk’s busy station, with graphic pictures on Friday showing bodies strewn across floor outside, lying amongst abandoned luggage and children’s prams.

Today’s funeral in Moscow was held for Zhirinovsky who died from ‘Covid’ after giving away the exact date of the Russian invasion. 

Putin held a bunch of red roses and placed them at the foot of the coffin before making the sign of the cross

Putin held a bunch of red roses and placed them at the foot of the coffin before making the sign of the cross

Mourners were also cleared away when the president paid his respects to Zhirinovsky

Mourners were also cleared away when the president paid his respects to Zhirinovsky

Today's funeral in Moscow was held for Zhirinovsky who died from 'Covid' after giving away the exact date of the Russian invasion

Today’s funeral in Moscow was held for Zhirinovsky who died from ‘Covid’ after giving away the exact date of the Russian invasion

When former president Dmitry Medvedev paid his tributes, armed guards were stationed at the coffin, but not for Putin

When former president Dmitry Medvedev paid his tributes, armed guards were stationed at the coffin, but not for Putin

The 75-year-old died only weeks after he announced the invasion date, despite boasting that he had received eight Covid shots since August 2020. 

He was admitted to hospital ‘seriously ill’ with the virus on February 2, six weeks after he almost exactly predicted the date Putin would eventually invade Ukraine.

On December 22, 2021, he told MPs in a speech that the invasion would start on 22 February, though it actually began on the evening of February 23, and heralded a ‘new direction in Russian foreign policy’. 

It was Zhirinovsky’s last speech in the State Duma and his disappearance came amid rumours he had annoyed the Kremlin by announcing an invasion that Putin wanted to keep quiet about.  

State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said Zhirinovsky died after ‘a serious and prolonged illness’ and held a minute of silence with the MPs in the house. 

Zhirinvosky, a candidate in all but one post-Soviet presidential election in Russia, told MPs before falling ill: ‘Russia will finally become a great country again. And everyone has to shut up, and respect our country. 

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, 75, (pictured speaking in the State Duma on December 22, 2021) was admitted to hospital 'seriously ill' with the virus days after he almost exactly predicted the date Putin would eventually invade Ukraine, according to Russian media

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, 75, (pictured speaking in the State Duma on December 22, 2021) was admitted to hospital ‘seriously ill’ with the virus days after he almost exactly predicted the date Putin would eventually invade Ukraine, according to Russian media

‘Otherwise they will shut us up, and destroy Russians first in the Donbas, and next in the west of Russia. So let’s support the new direction in Russia’s foreign policy.’ 

Zhirinovsky founded the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia – a name that belied its xenophobic views – in 1991 as the Soviet Union was pulling apart, and the group became the country’s first officially recognized opposition party.  

He gave outrageous and headline-grabbing statements during his career, including threats to launch nuclear weapons against various countries and to seize Alaska from the United States.

He also called for Moscow to expand Russia’s frontiers to the point where its soldiers could ‘wash their boots in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean’.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky gave his last speech in December and his disappearance came amid rumours he had annoyed the Kremlin by announcing an invasion that Putin (pictured together in September 2016) wanted to keep quiet about

Vladimir Zhirinovsky gave his last speech in December and his disappearance came amid rumours he had annoyed the Kremlin by announcing an invasion that Putin (pictured together in September 2016) wanted to keep quiet about

Ostensibly the Liberal Democrats provided political competition; in practice it backed him when it mattered, for instance over the 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. Zhirinovsky also proved useful to the Kremlin in floating radical opinions to test public reaction.  

His career took off in 1991 when he claimed a surprise third place in a presidential election won by Boris Yeltsin. Though later accounts contend that his party’s formation was a KGB project aimed at diverting legitimate opposition sentiment into ineffectual channels.

In its early years, the party had a significant presence in parliament. It won the single largest share of votes in the 1993 parliamentary election and took 64 seats in the 450-member Duma but ts prominence steadily declined, and after the 2021 election, the party was down to 21 seats.

Though the party’s influence fell, Zhirinovsky remained a vivid figure whose comments were received with enthusiasm or revulsion but rarely indifference.



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