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Russian parliament member says meteor was actually a U.S. weapons test

Russian Duma member Vladimir Zhirinovsky dodges some sauerkraut thrown by an unidentified woman during a press conference in Kiev, Ukraine, where he had made some controversial remarks, as he often does. (Stringer/REUTERS)

No sooner do we write about the conspiracy theories flourishing on Russian social media about the meteor, which sailed over central Russia on Friday, than an actual member of the Russian government weighs in with his own. Or so the Moscow-sponsored outlet Voice of Russia says. Here's its report:

Russia’s controversial Liberal leader, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, has blamed Americans for today’s meteorite scare, local media report.
“Those were not meteorites, it was Americans testing their new weapons," Mr. Zhirinovsky confessed to journalists.

Zhirinovsky further posited, according to the story, that new U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had attempted to tell Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about the "test" in advance. Lavrov has reportedly been dodging Kerry's phone calls for a few days now.

"He was looking for Lavrov, and Lavrov was on a trip," Zhirinovsky reportedly said of Kerry's motivation. "He meant to warn Lavrov about a provocation against Russia." To be clear, Zhirinovsky's "Liberal" party is not actually particularly liberal.

It doesn't make any sense to me, either. But Zhirinovsky is known for his nationalist, anti-Western, sometimes outlandish rhetoric, so this is not totally inconsistent with his worldview. Der Spiegel has called him a "political clown" and "radical right-wing boogie-man for the West."

Back in 1994, in the immediate post-Soviet days of especially topsy-turvy Russian politics, the New York Times wrote of him, "Mr. Zhirinovsky can be racist, cruel, endlessly strident. But he knows how to draw a crowd and how to hold it."

He certainly seems to have found a way to draw some attention to himself and his politics with today's meteor event.