"I've often thought Putin engaged in using his professional skills in the 'verbovania' (KGB term for recruitment) of west European leaders," writes Edward Lucas in a prefatory comment to his new Economist article on Germany, Russia, and the growing Schroeder/Gazprom scandal. "A few months ago I was having lunch with someone much cleverer than me who assured me that in Schroeder's case it was hard cash that was being used. Even I found that hard to believe. Even after 20 years covering the region I still find this particular incident really shocking."
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