GENEVA (Aug. 29)
In an unprecedented move, the Swiss government has refused to grant an entry visa to Russian ultranationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky.
“This is the very first time Switzerland refuses to give a visa to such a high-ranking politician,” a government spokesman said of the rejection of the request by Zhirinovsky, who last year obtained a visa to enter Switzerland.
Last week, the German Embassy in Moscow refused a visa request for Zhirinovsky to visit Germany next month.
Zhirinovsky, who leads Russia’s nationalistic Liberal Democratic Party, has repeatedly made headlines with his anti-Semitic views and his calls to regain the former glory of the Russian empire.
Late last year, Zhirinovsky made waves by entering Austria and staying at an alpine resort with a friend who was a former member of the Nazi SS.
According to the daily newspaper Le Journal de Geneva, the Swiss government made the decision because of Zhirinovsky’s extreme right-wing views. The paper also stated that the decision by Swiss authorities marks a new direction in the government’s attitude toward those who openly espouse racist ideologies.
In September, Switzerland will hold a public referendum on whether to enact legislation that will make it a crime to discriminate against ethnic groups or incite racial hatred.