Thursday, May 19, 2022

Putin allies

European Parliament backs sanctions against Germany's ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder

The parliament has called for sanctions on former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder because of his links to Russia.

The European Parliament is urging sanctions against former German chancellor Gerhard Schröderbecause of his business and political ties to Russia.

The EU legislature passed a resolution on Thursday that said sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine should be extended "to the European members of the boards of major Russian companies and to politicians who continue to receive Russian money."

Schröder, who headed the German government from 1998 to 2005, now works for the pipeline company Nord Stream and Russia's Gazprom, and has been under fire for these ties.

Protesters holding up anti-Schröder placard in Berlin (March 6, 2022)

Protesters against the war in Ukraine has called for Gerhard Schröder to be put on the sanctions list

German government cuts Schröder's privileges

The EU parliament's call for sanctions follows a decision by Berlin to cut back Schröder's special rightsas an ex-chancellor.

Germany's coalition government of Schröder's party, the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), Greens, and neoliberal Free Democrats (FDP) on Wednesday put forward a proposal to strip him of his state-funded office and staff. These are part of the privileges allowing former chancellors to continue political work. "The budgetary committee observes that former Chancellor Schröder no longer carries out any duties that result from his former office," the proposal read.

Finance Minister Christian Lindner from the FDP told Welt-TV that it was unthinkable that a former chancellor who is now "openly doing lobby work for the criminal rule of Vladimir Putin is still given an office by taxpayers."

However, most of Schröder's office staff has long resigned or been transferred to other posts in parliamentary business. Even his longtime office manager and speechwriter, Albrecht Funk, who worked with Schröder for two decades, turned his back on him in March.

The 78-year-old former chancellor is however not likely to lose his pension, which equates to an annual salary in the region of €100,000 (roughly $105,000).

graffiti at Berlin's East Side Gallery in Berlin of Schröder and Putin embracing, the slogan reads in German and Russian 'Dear God, help me to survive this love'

In Berlin, a new graffiti shows Schröder and Putin embracing. 'Dear God, help me to survive this deadly love' is the text in German and Russian.

Schröder's critics say he has not done enough to distance himself from his Russian business ties and President Vladimir Putin, whom Schröder still calls a close personal friend. As chancellor, Schröder worked hard to build Germany's economic ties with Russia via the "change through trade" policy.

In 2005, after losing a general election, he joined the pipeline company Nord Stream. He is still chairman of the shareholders' committee there. He is also chairman of the supervisory board of the Russian state energy giant Rosneft and is still listed in the relevant commercial register as chairman of the board of Nord Stream 2 AG. According to media estimates, the former chancellor earns around one million euros from his posts in the Russian energy industry.

Schröder has always maintained that his ties with Putin are a valuable channel of communication with the leader of Russia. However, a visit in March to Moscow failed to change Putin's course of action in Ukraine. He has since offered to try to use his contacts to broker some form of negotiations once more.

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