PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS IN the U.S. use buttons and bumper stickers. In Russia, maverick pol Vladimir Zhirinovsky is peddling his own name-brand vodka as a campaign gimmick. A member of Parliament best known for his vitriolic nationalistic views (example: reclaim Alaska), Zhirinovsky struck a deal with a distillery in Ryazan to churn out 70,000 bottles monthly of Russia's favorite spirit. The vodka, sold in kiosks throughout Moscow, has a label bearing his stern visage.
He needs something to galvanize his troubled bid to unseat President Boris Yeltsin, a noted vodka consumer. Zhirinovsky, whose poll ratings are down lately, plans a campaign swing along the Volga River in July, promising everyone access to good, cheap vodka.