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The Daily Vertical: One Of The Oldest Tricks In The Book (Transcript)

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

Remember the case of the man who resembles Yury Skuratov?

Of course you do. It was all the rage in Moscow back in 1999.

When Skuratov, then Russia's prosecutor-general, launched an investigation into top Kremlin officials, Russian television showed what it called "a man resembling Skuratov" frolicking with two prostitutes.

The director of the FSB then went on television to confirm that the man was, in fact, Skuratov.

WATCH: Today's Daily Vertical

And oh, by the way, the director of the FSB at the time was none other than Vladimir Putin.

Now, not surprisingly, Putin's Kremlin is denying reports that it gathered compromising and salacious material on Donald Trump that could be used to blackmail the U.S. president-elect.

And let's be clear. At this point, we just don't know if those reports -- which Trump called "fake news" and a "political witch hunt" -- are, in fact, true.

But what we do know is that this tactic, known in Russian as kompromat, has long been part of the Kremlin's playbook.

It's been used against opposition figures, officials who have fallen out of favor, and foreign diplomats.

Sometimes it comes in the form of the so-called honey trap.

Sometimes it involves ensnaring the target in a shady business deal or scheme that could be later exposed.

But the goal is always the same: First you corrupt, then you control.

It's one of the oldest Kremlin tricks in the book.

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