Putin warns West successor will be as tough
RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin warned the West yesterday that it would have it no easier under his successor Dmitry Medvedev, who will actively defend Russian interests on the world stage.
Speaking after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Putin said he had the feeling some world leaders were waiting for his presidency to end, as they found it uncomfortable to work with a former KGB spy.
But Putin said Medvedev, who was elected president in last Sunday's election – and will be sworn in as president in May – was a Russian patriot who would defend the country's interests. "I do not think our partners will have it easier with him," Putin said.
International observers and opposition groups have criticised the March election as unfair. Putin says the election was held in strict accordance with the Russian constitution.
The relationship between Medvedev and Merkel, a physicist from the former East Germany who speaks Russian, is likely to play a key role in relations between the two countries and the European Union.
Merkel, who has in the past scolded Putin over human rights, has also sought to boost trade with Russia's booming economy and to mediate between Moscow, Washington and Russia's EU partners.
Germany is by far Russia's biggest single trading partner, with a record $52.8bn in bilateral trade in 2007. German firms put $3.4bn into Russia last year and have key investments in Russia's energy sector.
There is hope in Berlin that Medvedev's election may herald a shift towards a more constructive Russia after clashes with Putin over Kosovo's independence and US plans to put a missile shield in central Europe.
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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