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Howard's End: Watching The Ruskies

Former United States Ku-Klux Klan leader David Duke, author of the book " Ultimate Supremacism: An Examination of the Jewish Question," hopes to settle in Russia and is openly marketing his book there to extreme nationalists. This is just one ominous sign coming out of Russia. John Howard writes.

Former KKK leader, David Duke, is planning to settle in Russia according to the Interfax newsagency.

He has friends in Moscow among extreme nationalists led by Albert Makashov. Duke is reported saying that he wants to continue the "struggle against the people of other colors and Jews" from a base in Russia - although it is not known at this time whether he will receive a residency permit.

Duke was a Republican representative for the US state of Louisiana in the 1980's and he also ran for governor, but lost.

In another ominous sign from Russia, President Vladimir Putin is in Austria for a three day visit which will be dominated by economic cooperation with a Kremlin plan to swap MiG-29 fighter jets for outstanding Russian debt.

Far right Austrian politician Joerg Haider, who also has extremist statements about Jews attributed to him, led a delegation to Moscow last October to discuss a contract about replacing its Draken jets which its airforce is currently equipped with.

Russia is struggling to meet its scheduled debt repayments on $43.8 billion of which $300 million is owed to Austria. Now, the Kremlin is planning to lift its debt burden by sending a number of MiG's to Austria in exchange for a write-off.

The proposed MiG swap, at prices two times lower than official prices, has met with a variety of responses throughout Europe.

And in another development, Putin has received support from the State Duma (lower house) 280 - 109 votes, to limit the number of political parties as part of the Kremlin's plan to centralise power. The vote was won on the first of three readings of the bill.

Putin argues that the law will keep criminals and corrupt business barons from funding fly-by-night parties that carry them into parliament and buy them immunity from prosecution that goes with a Duma seat.

But his outnumbered opponents say he is simply creating a political system in which Russia will only have a small number of centrist parties favourable to the Kremlin.

Russian news reports suggest that the measure would outlaw two-thirds of the existing 180 political movements across Russia.

Putin already took care of the Federation Council (upper house) last year, when he introduced instrumental changes which moved Russia away from democracy and a strong parliament.

So what's the relevance of all this?

Simply that Russia has already shown in its history that it is not particularly interested in upholding human rights with many of its views having been of the more extremist kind.

The continuing show trials of the Communist era and the 1950's international outrage generated over the "trial" of what became known as the "Jewish Doctors" has created a deep mistrust and suspicion of Russian leaders. Over the years, tens of thousands of Jews have had to flee Russia because of persecution.

It is worrying today, with the latest leadership developments in Israel, because Russia has formed alliances, deals bargains, over the supply of weapons to countries, among others, like Iraq and Iran.

Couple that with Russia's record of anti-democracy and anti-semitism, that a former KKK leader now plans to live in Russia, and the debt for MiG-jet swap with an Austrian right wing leader like Joerg Haider, and it all adds up to a country whose future actions will now require watching closely.


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