Leonid Slutsky, Head of the State Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee, who has been interim acting head of the LDPR since the death of Vladimir Zhirinovsky, was elected its chairman at a session of the LDPR parliamentary faction. LDPR spokesman Alexander Dupin announced on his Telegram channel that Leonid Slutsky was elected permanent leader of the Duma faction by a majority vote.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who passed away on April 6 after a serious illness, was the LDPR's founder and leader. As Vedomosti reported previously, the party members decided to make all the personnel changes 40 days after Zhirinovsky's death. Which is why it was on May 17 that the State Duma approved the early termination of Zhirinovsky's term of office.
Later, on May 27, an extraordinary congress will be held to elect a new LDPR leader. The media report that several people have already applied to run for the party's chairmanship, including former State Duma deputy Vitaly Zolochevsky and Alexander Sherin from the Ryazan branch. Musician Stas Baretsky has also applied. However, as Kommersant earlier reported, Leonid Slutsky was the main candidate. After all, it was Leonid Slutsky who took over as acting leader of the party after Zhirinovsky's death.
At a press conference, presidential spokesman Dmitri Peskov said that it is hard to overestimate the role of Vladimir Zhirinovsky in the life of the LDPR but it will be up to LDPR members to decide who will head the party.
Zhirinovsky not only served as party leader and LDPR faction leader for many years, but was also deputy speaker of the Duma. In an interview with the Ridus magazine, political analyst Marat Bashirov expressed doubts about Slutsky's ability to take on all three of these posts at once in the future. In Bashirov's view, Leonid Slutsky may well be the deputy speaker. The media report also notes that according to Bashirov, the party definitely needs “some sort of renovation.”
Political scientists Andrei Kortunov and Alexander Kynev agreed with Bashirov: they told RTVI that the election of Leonid Slutsky as leader of the Duma faction does not automatically mean that he will head the LDPR, which has a significant influence on Russian politics.
In turn, Ilya Grashchenkov, Head of the Regional Policy Development Center and political analyst, has a very different view on this matter. In an interview with Lenta.ru, Grashchenkov said that the faction leader and party leader is usually the same person. He admits that there may well be some reshuffles in the party after Slutsky was elected Duma faction leader. Speaking about the future development of the party as a whole, Grashchenkov points out that Slutsky is certainly a charismatic person, but his temperament and approach are fundamentally different from Zhirinovsky's. Thus, the LDPR leader's main task will be to create “a core of politicians who can somehow replace Zhirinovsky.”
He also notes that Mikhail Degtyarev, a young politician and Governor of the Khabarovsk Territory, is also a candidate for the party's leadership position. Another significant point is that Degtyarev met with President Vladimir Putin in late April. Besides, the Far East is the “fiefdom of the LDPR,” where many voters cast their votes for this very party. However, according to Grashchenkov, “it would be hard to combine the two positions of such importance as regional governor and party leader.”
The party should be led by someone who is well known and respected in the country, and the LDPR does not have that many people. According to Grashchenkov, Leonid Slutsky would be a more suitable candidate to head the LDPR at this point. He concludes his interview by adding that Slutsky is the more appropriate figure for the Kremlin right now.
As we can see, political analysts have different opinions about the LDPR's new leader. Applications for election have also been received from several people. Therefore, everything will depend on the party members who will express their opinion at the LDPR's special congress. Our choice of the party leader will depend on the outcome of their vote. We will wait to see who will occupy this important post. After all, it will be the LDPR leader who will largely determine the future activities of the party, whose branches exist in all 85 regions of Russia.