As Vladimir Putin begins his visit to South Africa, the first by a Russian leader, some points for reflection. For one thing, Putin goes as head of a country in which racially motivated incidents are showing a marked increase. A timeline from 2004 to March 2006 shows a staggeringly long list of racial assaults committed against groups and individuals from countries in Africa and Asia, as well as against Russia's own non-white minorities.
It's no secret that many of today's leading South African politicians and political figures, including President Thabo Mbeki, received training and support in the Soviet Union as far back as the 1970s. Thus, Putin's visit further confirms the growing movement of Kremlin foreign policy towards the strategic and ideological orientations of the past.