Improved U.S.-Russia relations a 'possibility' under Medvedev, says historian

Historians in the News

Yuri Felshtinsky says there's a slight chance the Russian secret service will loosen its control over the country now that it has a new president who never worked for the KGB. And there's about the same chance, says the Russian historian, that U.S.-Russia relations will improve with a new administration in Washington, DC.

Dmitry Medvedev, 42, has been elected Russia's new president and will replace his protégé Vladimir Putin in May. Since 1991, the former lawyer has worked with Putin, who will now serve as prime minister.

Russian historian Yuri Felshtinsky is co-author of the book Blowing Up Russia: The Secret Plot to Bring Back KGB Terror, which accuses Putin of using the Russian secret service to preserve his power and transform Russia back into an authoritarian state. He says there is one "great difference" between Putin and his hand-picked successor.

"Mr. Medvedev ... is not from the Russian secret service -- he never worked for the KGB, at least as far as we know," says Felshtinsky. "And it was widely expected that another person -- General Sergei Ivanov -- might be the next successor and the next president in Russia. [So] the fact that we are dealing with Medvedev is indeed good news."

Felshtinsky says although Medvedev will rule the same way Putin did, because he does not have a KGB background, there is a small possibility U.S.-Russian relations will improve. After all, he says, they cannot get much worse right now.

"After several statements concerning Iran and Kosovo and American weapons in Europe were made by the current administration, relations with the United States became not friendly," he offers, noting that Russia began flying strategic bombers again. "So I do not think that this would lead us to good relations with the old administration. Do we have the chance with the new administration? Yes, we do have the chance."...

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