When ex-Chancellor Schroeder was in office, this blog often wondered what motivated his mean-minded attitudes in relation to the USA, on the war on terror, and to the "new" eastern European countries which questioned Schroeder's anti-American stance. It also mystified us that Schroeder should be so adamant that Russia was a "perfect democracy" ("lupenreine Demokratie") when evidence from Chechnya and show-trials of billionaires who'd got on the wrong side of the President suggested otherwise.
Now, two short weeks after Schroeder left the Chancellory, things are becoming clearer. He has just accepted a job from President Vladimir Putin to help run the Russian energy company Gazprom. Gazprom hugely benefited from the Schroeder-Putin friendship, which prepared the ground for it to build a vast 1200 kilometre, 5 billion euro undersea pipeline to supply Germany with gas. Controversially, the new pipeline will supersede existing pipelines, which run through the Ukraine, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The Poles are especially worried that they will be cut out of the future gas supply.
When it was first rumoured that Schroeder was in line for such a job, back in October, his henchmen rubbished the rumours! "Baseless speculation" ("haltlose Spekulation"), commented the government spokesman Bela Anda. "It isn't true." "A vile rumour" ("ein übles Gerucht"), said SPD General Secretary Benneter.
Back then, the people around him could see Schroeder's acceptance of this post as scandalous - likely to tarnish not merely his personal reputation, but also the political path by which this controversial project came to fruition - a path tarnishing also those who merely tolerated it. It's a shame that they could not cut through Schroeder's greed to make him see that too. But the news helps put some of the more disgraceful actions of Schroeder's government in a much clearer light. And Schroeder's departure, true to form, has done as much to corrupt the Chancellorship as his occupancy of it.