The German government admits reversing the advantages granted to former Social Democrat chancellor Gerhard Schröder, close to Vladimir Putin, including the allocation of cabinets, Finance Minister Christian Lindner said this Saturday.
“It is no longer conceivable that you should be given [a Gerhard Schröder] by taxpayers funds for offices”, said the German finance minister, in statements to the media group Funke, quoted by AFP.
For the ruler, “consequences” should be drawn from Schröder’s refusal to end his responsibilities in various Russian groups and to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
As a former chancellor, a position he held between 1998 and 2005, Schröder is still entitled to several spaces in the Chamber of Deputies and a staff budget, a privilege that costs taxpayers 400,000 euros a year.
“Former incumbents, who are obviously on the side of criminal governments, cannot count on the support of the state,” Lindner said.
The benefits granted to the former chancellor could thus be reduced in the context of the upcoming debates on the 2023 budget.
“It would be sensible to standardize the equipment of former high-level holders and reduce it over time. In this context, one should also speak of a kind of code of honor with regard to behavior,” added Lindner, president of the liberal FDP party and member of the coalition led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Pressure has mounted on the 77-year-old Schröder, having already been deprived of honorary distinctions by several cities and the subject of calls for expulsion from the social-democratic SPD party.
Schröder became an uncomfortable figure, even for the current head of government, Olaf Scholz, to whom he mentored.
The controversy grew again after an interview broadcast last weekend by the New York Times, in which Schröder stated that he had no intention of relinquishing his tenures in Russian companies and that he would only do so if Moscow decided to cut off the gas supply to Germany, a scenario in which he said he did not believe.
Most of the former European leaders present before the war in Ukraine in the governing bodies of Russian companies have already resigned.
The former chancellor is chairman of the shareholders’ committee of Nord Stream AG, the controversial Russian-German gas pipeline that is not licensed to operate, and chairman of the supervisory board of Rosneft, Russia’s top oil group.
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