Web Original / Zhirinovsky's Russian Empire
An Alternate History
timeline on the site AlternateHistory.com
written by the user "Pelligrino Shots".
In Real Life
, perennial Russian presidential candidate Vladimir Volfovich Zhirinovsky is an eccentric who is as famous for his bizarre political advertisements
and orange juice fights
as he is for his extreme ultranationalist views. He's widely viewed as harmless because of his utter unelectability, and is often seen as something of a rodeo clown for the Kremlin: a political performer used to draw off votes from more competent would-be demagogues.
In Zhirinovsky's Russian Empire,
Mr. Shots has us imagine a series of unfortunate events that lead to Russia's Crazy Uncle Volodya taking office as President of Russia after Boris Yeltsin is assassinated during the 1991 coup attempt. Things go... poorly.
The timeline is finished and can be found here
A collection of deleted scenes called The world of "Zhirinovsky's Russian Empire"
is currently ongoing.
- Acceptable Targets: In-Universe, western media treats Zhirinovsky and Russia in general as one. For example, the Simpsons episode "You Only Move Twice" features him as an associate of Hank Scorpio. Zavidiya, however, blames American media for much of the tension between Russia and America by demonizing Russia as a whole.
- Alternate History: A slightly different August Coup causes horrific changes in history.
- Argentina Is Naziland: A variation: Konstantin Pulikovsky, a Russian general responsible for the massacre of Grozny, has found refuge from war crimes charges in Liberia, which the UIS helped stabilize.
- Badass Boast: Bob Kerrey gives one to Zhirinovsky when he declares he will not cede Kosovo to the UIS, even at the risk of nuclear war.
Bob Kerrey: "If the UIS attempts to launch any nuclear weapons at American cities or military instillations in Western Europe, this nation is prepared to respond in kind with extreme force. President Zhirinovsky has forced the American people to choose between justice and indifference. Mr. Zhirinovsky, on behalf of the United States of America, I would like to give you the following message: 'We made our choice...we choose justice.'"
- Balkanize Me: Subverted by Zhirinovsky's UIS which manages to reunite all former Soviet republics except for the Baltic states, and even they stay for various reasons within Moscow's influence sphere. The UIS even manages to (re-)unite the Serbian parts of Yugoslavia at the expense of Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro.
- OTOH, UIS interventions split several nations (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Romania, the United Arab Emirates, etc.)
- Black and Grey Morality: The UIS is a brutal, sometimes genocidal nation. The US government is often times corrupt and short-sighted.
- Broken Pedestal: The US Government and Lebed for the Chechen Government-in-Exile, the former for not ensuring Chechen independence in 1996, and the latter for not rebuilding Chechnya when he came to power (it is a lot more complicated than that however).
- Cassandra Truth: Michigan Governor John Engler is aware of the threat of Islamic terrorism, and castigates Bush for not doing more to stop it. Before the attack, he is disliked as a maverick in the Republican Party, especially for supporting the nationalization of GM after is goes bankrupt, and his criticism of Bush hurts him even more. Then 9/11 does happen (the same day he is on a talk show, where he is advocating for a reponse to Al-Qaeda), and Bush completely screws up the response. He is quickly labeled the "American Churchill", and wins the Presidency in 2004.
- The Chessmaster: Alexander Lebed who manages to outmaneuver everyone.
- Conspiracy Kitchen Sink: In-universe, the UIS has become the prime suspect in every major global conflict, from 9/11 to the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Several glaring examples:
- Andrei Zavidiya, who monopolizes Russia's media, wrecks quality, rigs elections, and turns Russian politics all for his personal gain.
- Viktor Ivanenko, chairman of Yukos, the large Russian oil company, who bribes politicians throughout the world, and triggers unrest in the Republic of Ingushetia.
- Crapsack World
- World Half Full: Despite the horrific state of the World, there are few silver linings: Dubai, Iran, Liberia, Bahrain and other Middle Eastern nations become democratic, with Iran rebuilding diplomatic ties with the US. Tajikstan is able to build its independence, and the Taliban is destroyed. Kaliningrad, renamed Konigsberg, is able to build a successful market economy, and Russians in other UIS nations have obtained a high standard of living. Many people, including Zhirinovsky, are put on trial for war crimes. Immigration reform passes in the US, though not without reaction by right-wing politicans. And South American cuisine has become popular all across Russia.
- The Cuckoolander Was Right: As the last chapter revealed, Putin was right about Lebed... or not.
- Darkest Hour: June 1997 is the closest thing in this timeline: the world is on the brink of nuclear war, Grozny is destroyed, with hundreds of thousands slaughtered, the world economy is in free fall, law and order has broken down across the US, and the NBA Championship has been canceled. It is a relief when the Milosevic sues for peace.
- The Empire: The Union of Independent States. Resembles something like Slobodan Milošević's Yugoslavia, if it spanned half a continent and was armed to the teeth with the USSR's old arsenal.
- Generican Empire
- Hegemonic Empire: Several states (Armenia, the Serbian republics) join the UIS voluntarily.
- Rising Empire: Most of the timeline is about the rise and consolidation of the UIS under the leadership of Zhirinovsky and Lebed.
- Enemy Mine: The US and the UIS join forces to defeat the Taliban.
- Epic Fail:
- The response to 9/11 in-universe, and Played for Drama. When a plane crashes into the Duma, the president ignores John Engler's demands to ground air traffic, since the UIS airline is in such disrepair, the crash could have been accidental. When the first plane hits the World Trade Center, Bush still doesn't ground air traffic, allowing three more planes to hit the second tower, The Pentagon, and a nuclear plant in Ohio. Michael Brown, FEMA's head announces that a meltdown was imminent, causing a panic that jammed up the state of Ohio. 1000 people were killed what becomes known as The Jam, a meltdown didn't even occur and FEMA didn't arrive until ten days later while members of the California high patrol arrived to help the people of Ohio the very next day. Needless to say, Bush nearly faces impeachment, and is not renominated for president in 2004 by the Republican party.
- The Prussiagate Memo, in which Zhirinovsky wrote to Chancellor Kohl, proposing a joint invasion of Poland and dividing it up between them. Not only is it horrifying, it was poorly written.
Andrei Zavidiya: "Why did you send that letter to the Germans?! Not only do we sound like Nazis, we sound like retarded Nazis!
- Face Death with Dignity: Burbulis and Korzhakov choose to face an angry mob of Zhirinovsky's mob rather than cry and beg. It saves their lives.
- Fascist, but Inefficient: The UIS. Sometimes, its continued survival borders on sheer dumb luck.
- Increasingly averted once Lebed takes over.
- Full-Circle Revolution: The end of communist rule in Russia is replaced by what is essentially a fascist junta.
- Germans Love David Hasselhoff: In-universe, Bob Kerrey becomes a hero to the Kosovar Albanians after he risks nuclear war to protect them from UIS occuptation. Many Albanians are named after him, including a modern day pop star who becomes an internet sensation for his hilariously bad music.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: Bob Kerrey after the UIS exposes the Thanh Phong incident. He breaks out of it when the UIS tries to occupy Montenegro.
- Heroic Sacrifice: General Viktor Dubynin.
- I Did What I Had to Do: Putin justifying his work for the KGB under Zhirinovsky.
- I Love Nuclear Power: With oil prices fluctuating due to actions of the UIS, Bush proposes building more nuclear power. In-universe, it is seen as a terrible idea by some Democrats, and makes nuclear power plants a target for Al-Qaeda.
- In Spite of a Nail: Al Gore still becomes Vice President in 1992, and George Bush is still elected president in 2000, but loses to John Engler in 2004, and 9/11 still happens. However, the context of these things is very different.
- Istanbul Not Constantinople: Kaliningrad is once again known as Ko(e)nigsberg.
- Knight Templar: The members of the dreaded Anti-Terrorism Unit of the UIS Federal Police Force (ATU-FPF) whose motto is “by any means necessary".
- Make the Bear Angry Again: And how.
- The Man Behind the Man: General Alexander Lebed to Vladimir Zhirinovsky according to Vladimir Putin.
- Laughably Evil: Zhirinovsky's antics are on occasion hilarious.
- Never Live It Down:
- In-universe, Bush 43 is ridiculed for calling the UIS a "piranha state".
- Zhirinovsky will be remembered as much for punching Tony Blair as he will be for his genocide against the Chechens.
- Bob Kerrey for the Thanh Phong massacre. Zhirinovsky never misses an opportunity to call Kerrey a baby killer.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Every time someone expected Zhirinovsky to be thrown out of power, he is able to take advantage of luck, coincidence, and political upheaval to stay in power.
- Obligatory War Crime Scene: Lots and lots of examples. One of them is in Afghanistan, where the UIS and its Afghan allies separate the Pashtuns from the pro-UIS and Northern Alliance Uzbeks and Tajiks for (allegedly) supporting the Taliban, and then pack them up on old shipping containers while Michael Jackson's song We Are The World blares on. And when they open the container, they just shoot the men inside, to the horror of a US Navy SEAL "invited" there as witness.
- Our Presidents Are Different: Bob Kerrey is sometimes President Focus Group with his attempts at catering to both the left and right wing causing serious problems, President Iron for his vetoing of Defense of Marriage and for drawing the line with the UIS at Kosovo, even at the risk of nuclear confrontation, and President Action, for being a Vietnam War vet.
- Bush becomes even more of a President Buffoon for his gaffes and his incompetent management of 9/11, and President Corrupt for having appointed Ken Lay of Enron Secretary of Treasury and for dismantling environmental legislation to drill to allow for more fossil fuels to be mined and drilled, and for allowing the construction of more nuclear power.
- John Engler becomes President Iron for his firm stances against terrorism, and his unpopular viewpoints like the nationalization of GM, and the Kim-Hutchinson Act.
- People's Republic of Tyranny:
- Zhirinovsky is the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. It of course is neither liberal nor democratic.
- The main purpose of the Union of Independent States is to prevent its member states from going independent.
- The predecessor of the UIS, the Union of Democratic Republics was even less democratic than the UIS.
- Pragmatic Villainy:
- Lebed is a lot saner than Zhirinovsky, but he is not exactly a good guy, as in-universe articles describe the UIS as less democratic and free than in previous years.
- Russian peacekeepers zigzag between this and Stupid Evil. They actually do rein in the Serbian militias and their attacks on civilians on several occasions. One Bosnian fighter acknowledges that while the UIS prevented some massacres, he still holds very little good will to Russians for ripping the country apart.
- President Evil: Zhirinovsky, of course.
- Psychopathic Manchild: Zhirinovsky, who is prone to violent tantrums.
- Puppet State: The UIS has a couple. The most important is the Hungarian Republic of Szeklerland which connects the Serbian UIS republics with the rest of the UIS.
- Richard Nixon the Used Car Salesman: Taking Zhirinovsky's place on the outskirts of Russian politics in this timeline is perennial Russian presidential candidate Vladimir Putin.
- Silvio Berlusconi fails to get into politics altogether.
- Bob Kerrey becomes president, as do John Engler and JFK Jr..
- The Scapegoat: Zhirinovsky ends up used by the UIS leadership as this.
- Scrapbook Story
- Shout-Out: The In-Universe Film of the Book of World War Z had to be re-titled after right-wing, anti-immigration, pro-Zhirinovsky protesters in the West (particularly in the UK) blurted out "World War Z!" The Z could mean Zhirinovsky or zombies, but the 'zombies' these protesters talking about were something else.
- Title Drop: At the end of the epilogue.
Lebed: “Whether we want to admit it or not, we all had a role in creating the nightmare that was Zhirinovsky’s Russian Empire.”
- Token Good Teammate: Gennady Burbulis and General Sergei Stepashin.
- Too Dumb to Live: Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudayev who prefered to continue an (increasingly) suicidal war of independence instead of making peace with the UIS. In the end, neither he nor his Chechen Republic of Ichkeria or much of the Chechen population survive the war.
- Unreliable Narrator: Vladimir Putin during his BBC interview. Burbulis himself becomes this after Tikhomirov, who he claimed was executed by Alexander Lebed, in found alive in Serbia.
- Vetinari Job Security: Lebed as made himself into the only man who can keep communists and fascists from returning to power in the UIS, meaning the West supports his regime in spite of its shadier dealings.
- Vindicated by History:
- George HW Bush loses in 1992 because of his perceived weaknesses in stopping the UIS. But after twelve years of turmoil, people start respecting his cautious response to the turmoil.