More Grist for Oliver Stone's Mill?

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Kennedy conspiracy theorists have a whole new set of reading materials to digest. Over the weekend at the G8 summit in Germany, Russian President Boris Yeltsin handed President Clinton what could be a new treasure trove of information (or perhaps just false gold): A declassified Russian dossier concerning the 1963 assassination of JFK. The documents are in Russian and apparently concern Lee Harvey Oswald’s travels to the Soviet Union as well as the Soviet government’s reaction to the killing. Kennedy enthusiasts hope the information will yield new insights about Oswald’s life in Minsk in the early 1960s and any possible ties he may have had with Soviet authorities.

In the U.S., Yeltsin’s gift will provide yet more material to peruse and assess, and will thus help maintain the Kennedy assassination industry as a going concern. But an intriguing question is whether Yeltsin’s gift also represents a hidden Russian domestic agenda. "Yeltsin may have done this to score points against one or another of his enemies from the former Soviet Union," says TIME White House correspondent Jay Branegan. The Russian press has reported in the past that Russian intelligence opposed the release of the JFK files, for fear the documents might reveal too much about itself. For the moment, the most that can be said with certainty about the gift is its diplomatic significance: Regardless of continuing differences over Kosovo, says Branegan, "Yeltsin’s gift represents a sign of continuing friendship and an attempt to put confrontation between the U.S. and Russia behind."