Berlin/Brussels, 19 May 2022 (dpa/MIA) – Former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder, criticized for his links to Russia, will have to give up his office at the Bundestag and also faced calls from the EU Parliament on Thursday to be sanctioned.
A German parliamentary budget committee ruled he must give up his office, according to dpa political sources, but the 78-year-old will continue to receive a pension and personal protection.
Under fire for his business and political ties to Russia following the invasion of Ukraine, Schröder was chancellor from 1998 to 2005 before working for the pipeline company Nord Stream and Russia’s gas giant Gazprom, among others.
The staff from his office are to take on duties elsewhere, according to a motion that was agreed by a majority in the committee.
The motion does not explicitly mention Schröder’s connections to Russian companies or Russian President Vladimir Putin. This is because it could be open to legal challenges, the sources said.
A resolution from the European Parliament earlier said EU 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.”
The EU legislature named former Austrian chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel and former French prime minister Francois Fillon as two examples who resigned from Russian companies.
The resolution “strongly demands that others, such as Karin Kneissl and Gerhard Schröder, do the same.”
Kneissl, a former Austrian foreign minister, has drawn strong condemnation in EU circles after pictures emerged of her dancing with Putin in 2018 while in office. She now works for Rosneft, a Russian energy company.
The move from the parliament is largely symbolic as power to adopt sanctions rests with the European Council, the EU body representing the 27 EU member states.
The resolution following a vote is the latest public condemnation of Schröder after Germany’s governing coalition – led by the Social Democrats (SPD) which Schröder belongs to and once led – decided to cut back his special rights as an ex-chancellor.
The coalition’s proposals, rubber-stamped by the parliamentary budget committee, fall short of the demand by the conservative opposition that Schröder also lose his pension.
The opposition argued that Schröder was damaging Germany’s international reputation by not distancing himself from Putin and holding on to his posts in various Russian energy companies.
The SPD leadership has asked him to leave the party and there are also motions to expel him.
The European Union has adopted five rounds of sanctions on Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, targeting the country’s economy, financial system and top government officials including Putin.
Members of the Russian parliament as well as oligarchs in Putin’s inner circle are among the 1,093 individuals and 80 entities targeted by the EU.