Berlin, Aug 12 (EFE) – Former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is suing the Bundestag, the country’s federal parliament, after the public allowance for his office was withdrawn amid the avalanche of criticism he is facing over his ties with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Schroeder claims the removal of these perks is “illegitimate” and that he has not been given the opportunity to defend himself, the politician’s lawyers told the public television NDR.
The parliament’s administration decided in May to remove some of the privileges that Schroeder receives as a former chancellor, among them the staffing and maintenance of his office, whose expenses amounted last year to 419,000 euros.
Schroeder, in power between 1998 and 2005, has become a highly controversial figure over his links to Putin, from which Germany’s current energy dependence on Russia stems.
The leadership of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) has repeatedly urged him to end the relationship and even “invited” him to leave its ranks if he fails to do so.
In several statements, the Social Democrat says he “regrets” the war in Ukraine, without condemning Russia, has defended his relationship with Putin and has even criticized the line of the current German government towards Moscow.
As German chancellor, Schroeder and the Russian president became political allies and friends, ties that were forged during his seven years at the helm of the European economic power.
The most visible fruit of their close ties was the construction of the German-Russian Nord Stream gas pipeline, agreed between Berlin and Moscow in 2005, shortly before he lost out to the conservative Angela Merkel.
A few months after that defeat, he took up positions on boards of directors related to the pipeline. This alleged “revolving door” was already a complex issue for the SPD at the time and has now been aggravated by the war in Ukraine.
Amid strong pressure, Schröder resigned in May from his positions in the Russian oil consortium Rosneft, whose board he had chaired since 2017, and from his nomination to join that of Gazprom.
The former chancellor, however, continues to defend his ties to Putin, with whom he has met in Moscow on at least two occasions in recent months, purportedly to mediate.
Neither his party nor chancellor Olaf Scholz – also a Social Democrat – support these reported mediation attempts. EFE