Rarely do we see Moscow’s message communicated so clearly as in the article below: Treat us well while you are in office, and we will reward you handsomely in retirement. Financial Times:
Observer: Table for four: Putin hosts the exes Published: October 31 2007 Vladimir Putin, Russia’s action man, who likes to break new ground at home and abroad, is also the sort to foster old friendships. Shortly after revealing the machinations that would allow him to hang on to power when his second term as president expires next March, Putin celebrated by holding a private dinner in St Petersburg for three buddies with experience of life after office. France’s Jacques Chirac, Germany’s Gerhard Schröder and Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi shared fireside notes. The trio are out of office but far from idle. Berlusconi is working hard to get back in as soon as possible. (A frequent visitor to Russia, Italy’s wealthiest man was last seen in St Petersburg with actor Jean-Claude Van Damme watching a kick-boxing match just hours after police had clubbed opposition activists marching in Moscow). Schröder chairs the board of Nord Stream, a lucrative number he lined up while in office, involving the piping of Russian gas under the Baltic straight to Germany. Meanwhile the French ex is busy raising money for the Chirac foundation “for sustainable development and dialogue between cultures”. Representatives confirmed the mid-October dinner but would not comment further. Observer’s contacts in the energy world suggested Putin was seeking advice on how the Kremlin should respond to the new order of power in Europe, particularly to EU deliberations over curbing access to its markets by Russia’s Gazprom. Hobbies were almost certainly not discussed.