MOSCOW, Sept. 4 (JTA) — A former Ku Klux Klan leader is spreading his anti-Semitic message across Russia.
But the real message is that there appears to be increasing cooperation between Russian extremists and their ideological counterparts abroad.
David Duke recently began his one-month trip to Russia by telling a crowd at a downtown Moscow museum that they should take action against “the Aryan race’s main enemy — world Zionism” and that “the Jews have brought us to our knees,” according to the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews.
Duke apparently came to Russia for a one-month visit on the invitation of Aleksander Prokhanov, the editor-in-chief of Zavtra, an ultranationalist newspaper, and Konstantin Kasimovsky, the head of an anti-Semitic organization called Russian Action.
Prokhanov, who is influential in nationalist circles and whose paper is heavily tainted with xenophobia and anti-Semitism, was invited recently to a meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin with chief editors of some newspapers.
At the museum, Duke also called for all dark-skinned people to be forced out of Moscow. The crowd responded with cries of “Glory to Russia!” and “White Power!”
The national director of a group that monitors anti-Semitic acts and other human rights violations in Russia, said Duke’s visit was throwing the spotlight on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s flirtation with Russian extremists.
“Coming just two weeks after President Putin granted a meeting to Mr. Prokhanov, in effect legitimizing his anti-Semitic publishing activity, Prokhanov’s open affiliation with a despicable character like Duke brings into even greater focus how wrong it was for the president to meet with him in the first place,” said Micah Naftalin.
This is Duke’s second trip to Russia. Last year he met with Gen. Albert Makashov, a former Communist lawmaker known for his anti-Semitic statements.
In May, Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of France’s xenophobic National Front, visited Ukraine and signed a collaboration agreement with the Ukrainian National Socialist Party, a leading extreme-right organization in western Ukraine.
Lev Krichevsky, director of the Moscow office of the Anti-Defamation League, said extreme Russian nationalists are stepping up contacts with their counterparts in the West, including the sharing of Internet resources.
“It is amazing to see how fast these guys, with all their anti-Western rhetoric, find common language and organize multi-language Web sites together with their colleagues from the West,” Krichevsky said.
There are also signs of cooperation between Muslim extremists and nationalists across the former Soviet Union.
Even in Russia, despite the anti-Muslim feelings caused by the Chechen war, some Russian nationalist groups are teaming up with the Muslim extremists in a “common struggle against Zionist conspiracy” in Russia, the Middle East and elsewhere.