Vladimir Volfovich Zhirinovsky (Russian: Влади́мир Во́льфович Жирино́вский; born 25 April 1946) is a Russian politician, colonel of the Russian Army, founder and the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), Vice-Chairman of the State Duma, and a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
Zhirinovsky was born in Almaty, the capital of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, modern-day Kazakhstan. In July 1964, Zhirinovsky moved from Almaty to Moscow, where he began his studies in the Department of Turkish Studies, Institute of Asian and African Studies at Moscow State University (MSU), from which he graduated in 1969. Zhirinovsky then went into military service in Tbilisi during the early 1970s. He would later get a law degree and work at various posts in state committees and unions. He was awarded a Ph.D. in philosophy by MSU in 1998. Although he participated in some underground reformist groups, Zhirinovsky was largely inconsequential in Soviet political developments during the 1980s. While he contemplated a role in politics, a nomination attempt for a seat as a People's Deputy in 1989 was quickly abandoned.
In 1990, Zhirinovsky, along with Vladimir Bogachev, took initiatives which led to the founding of the Liberal Democratic Party, the second registered party in the Soviet Union and therefore the first officially sanctioned opposition party. According to the former CPSU Politburo member Alexander Nikolaevich Yakovlev, this party was a joint project of Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) leadership and the KGB. Yakovlev wrote in his memoirs that KGB director Vladimir Kryuchkov presented the project of the puppet LDPR party at a meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev and informed him about a selection of the LDPR leader. According to Yakovlev, the name of the party was invented by KGB General Philipp Bobkov. However Bobkov said that he was against the creation of this "Zubatov's pseudo-party under KGB control that directs interests and sentiments of certain social groups".