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German ex-Chancellor Schröder gives up Rosneft position

May 20, 2022

Germany's Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has stepped down from the board of the Russian state-owned oil company, a week after the Bundestag announced he would lose his taxpayer-funded office and staff.

Gerhard Schöder
Gerhard Schöder has come under fire for his ties to Russian businesses and governmentImage: Christoph Hardt/Geisler-Fotopress/picture alliance

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has told Russia's state-owned oil company Rosneft that he cannot continue serving on its board of directors, a statement on the company's website says.

German businessman and Nord Stream 2 CEO Matthias Warning had also made the same move, it said.

His departure from Rosneft comes as the German parliament announced on Thursday that he would lose his taxpayer-funded office and staff, amid the controversy over his business and political ties to Russia.

Gerhard Schröder's reported Moscow visit: Politico's Matthew Karnitschnig

Rosneft thanks Schröder for 'invaluable' role

Schröder was a Social Democratic party (SPD) chancellor from 1998 to 2005. After leaving office, he went on to work for Russian energy giants Gazprom and Rosneft, among others.

"We are sympathetic to their [Schröder and Warning's] decisions and thank them for their continued support," Rosneft said in the statement.

"Their role in the implementation of large-scale infrastructure projects in Russia and Germany, aimed at increasing the efficiency of the Germany economy and its industry and the well-being of its citizens, is invaluable," the company added.

Intense criticism over Russia ties

Schröder had come under intense criticism for his close connections with the Kremlin and Russian businesses. In particular, for retaining the post amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

DW Politics correspondent Benjamin Alvarez Gruber noted that Schröder also did not take a stand when Russia invaded Crimea in 2014 and that his ties to Russia could be more personal.

"It's far more than just a business relationship with the Russian president. He considers Vladimir Putin a friend," Alvarez Gruber said.

EU lawmakers also moved to put pressure on Schröder on Thursday. In a non-binding resolution, members of the European Parliament  called on the bloc to sanction him and other individuals in Europe who refuse to give up their lucrative board seats at Russian companies.

Since the war in Ukraine began, the SPD leadership has asked Schröder to leave the party. It may now face a debate on whether to try to expel him now the deadline set for his departure has passed.

jcg/kb (dpa, Reuters)