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Russian nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, on a swing through the U.S. to try to revamp his image as a dangerous political impresario and anti-Semite, told TIME editors in New York today that Western and Jewish conspiracies had ruined his country. The CIA and Israel's intelligence branch, Mossad, engineered "Black Tuesday,"last month's ruble crash, he said. Asked if he considered the U.S. his country's permanent enemy, the 1996 Russian presidential hopeful replied, "No . . . not an enemy in the literal sense of the word. But the purpose of America is to put an end to Russia. The opinion exists among Russians that America has played a key role in bringing Russia down." And, after saying he was misinterpreted on statements in San Francisco yesterday that brought condemnations from American Jewish groups, Zhirinovsky said, "There is no such thing as a poor Jewish person in Russia, in America or in Europe. Only a black person or a Latin American person can be poor in America. And the poorest people in Russia are Russians . . . I would like to stress that I do not stick to any anti-Semitic position or attitude."