German ex-chancellor’s staff quit over his ties to Russia – reports — Analysis

The staffers reportedly left in response to Gerhard Schroeder’s refusal to vacate posts at the Rosneft and Gazprom energy giants

Gerhard Schroeder, a German social-democratic politician who served as the country’s chancellor from 1998 to 2005, has had all his staff walk out on him. German media claim that four of his staff left after Schroeder refused two Russian energy company posts.

According to Germany’s Pioneer news portal, Albrecht Funk who had served as Schroder’s taxpayer-funded office manager for over 20 years, stepped down last week, after his boss refused to quit his posts in Russia’s Rosneft and Gazprom energy companies despite Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Funk told Reuters that he and two other secretaries as well as a driver asked to be transferred to different jobs in the chancellery. Funk wouldn’t reveal the reasons for their request to Reuters, however.

Schroeder and the chancellery have not yet commented on the matter.

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Former chancellor Vladimir Putin is known for being friendly with him. In addition, the former chancellor has been a multiple-time employee in Russian and Russia-affiliated firms since his resignation in 2005.

His closeness to Moscow has come under increased scrutiny at home over the past week, after Russia launched what it described as a “Operation military special” in Ukraine. Politicians from Schroeder’s own SPD party, as well as other political forces in the country, have been putting pressure on him to sever his ties with Russian firms.

While criticizing Russia’s invasion in general in a statement last week, Schroeder also pointed out that “both sides made mistakes,” apparently suggesting that NATO’s eastward expansion had played a role, too.

He has refused to give in to pressure regarding the positions he holds within Russian companies. He maintained that Europe should continue to have relations with Russia regardless of the current escalated tensions.

Schroeder’s stance has seen some in Germany demand that all the benefits and perks he enjoys as a former chancellor be taken away from him.

On February 24, President Putin announced the launch of a military offensive in Ukraine, which he said was intended to “Demilitarize, denazify” the country, and protect the Russian-speaking population of the Donbass republics. These claims have been dismissed by Ukraine and its Western allies as pretexts for engaging in an aggressive war against sovereign states. They insist that Putin wants to establish a pro-Russian puppet state in Kiev.

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