While the crash of a meteor in Russia has left American Congress members concerned enough to call a House Science committee hearing on asteroids, some in Russia are keeping concerns terrestrial.
According to the Washington Post, citing Moscow-sponsored outlet Voice of Russia, controversial parliament member Vladimir Zhirinovsky "has blamed Americans for today’s meteorite scare." Reportedly, Zhirinovsky told reporters, "Those were not meteorites; it was Americans testing their new weapons.”
WaPo notes that "Zhirinovsky is known for his nationalist, anti-Western, sometimes outlandish rhetoric" and has been called a “political clown" by German newspaper Der Spiegel.
Although outlandish and not widely shared in the Kremlin, Zhirinovsky's meteor comments come at a time of heightened tensions between the U.S. and Russia. The Economist noted Friday that "to Kremlin ideologists, the very concept of Russia’s sovereignty depends on being free of America’s influence." The Economist notes a series of antagonist measures Russia and America recently introduced against the other:
The Kremlin has banned American couples from adopting Russian orphans, depriving many children with severe disabilities of the chance of a decent life. This was Russia’s first response to America’s Magnitsky act...[which] threatens sanctions against Russian officials directly involved in human-rights abuses. Russia’s second response was a law introduced by Mr Putin prohibiting Russian officials or their immediate family members from holding foreign bank accounts or foreign assets, because such things pose a threat to national security.