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December 13, 2005
Peeking Out Of Putin's Pocket

Gerhard Schroeder lashed out at his critics yesterday after accepting a cushy job with the Russian state=owned oil company Gazprom just weeks after approving a major project while still Chancellor. He threatened to sue anyone accusing him of "sleaze", while new Chancellor Angela Merkel says she wants a debate on a code of conduct for politicians re-entering the marketplace:

In remarks made to the Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, Mr Schroeder says the allegations against him are "nonsense" and announces that he is taking legal action - although he does not give any details about this.

Mr Schroeder and President Putin signed the deal to build the gas pipeline underneath the Baltic Sea 10 days before the general election in September - earlier than originally planned.

Politicians and the media have suggested there was a conflict of interest, with Mr Schroeder allegedly feathering his nest while acting in a public capacity. "Schroeder ruins his reputation" was one front-page headline on Tuesday. But Mr Schroeder said he was only offered the job on Friday last week, the same day that his appointment was announced.

And if anyone believes that, Honest Ger has a bridge he can sell you over the Rhine.

Even if Schroeder can be taken at face value here and we buy the notion that his résumé just happened to get to Gazprom through, the fact that a former Chancellor of Germany airily dismissed an opportunity to take over a ministry in a unity government to lick the boots of Vladimir Putin has to appall ordinary Germans.

At least, we hope it does. The Germans certainly deserve better than this.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 13, 2005 6:43 AM

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