Old job: Chancellor of Germany, 1998-2005
New image: Schröder had always been reliably pro-Russia as chancellor, rejecting criticism of Moscow's human rights record and even describing then-President Vladimir Putin as a "flawless democrat." But the German public was still shocked by the blatant cynicism of his final act. Less than one month before stepping down, Schröder helped procure a $1.4 billion loan for Gazprom, the Russian state oil monopoly formerly run by current President Dmitry Medvedev. Then, just after stepping down, Schröder accepted the chairmanship of Gazprom's controversial Nord Stream pipeline project, which will increase Germany's reliance on Russian natural gas and was agreed to under Schröder's tenure.
Schröder's actions were a major political scandal in Germany, with the public understandably wondering why he had been so eager to negotiate the pipeline deal in the first place. Schröder told a German newspaper, "I do not see that I did anything wrong," and got a court to enforce a gag order preventing rival politician Guido Westerwelle, now Germany's foreign minister, from criticizing him.
More recently, Schröder joined the board of BP's troubled Russian subsidiary, TNK-BP, whose British owners have accused the Russian government of attempting to harass them into leaving the country. Schröder continues to toe the Russian line on foreign-policy issues, defending Putin's democratic credentials and criticizing the recognition of Kosovo's independence.