Esken: “earns his money working for Russian public companies” and defends Putin
The co-chair of the ruling German Social Democratic Party (SPD), Saskia Esken, has demanded that former Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder leave the formation, given his condescending stance with Moscow in the war in Ukraine, defending his personal friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and his reluctance to leave the top positions he holds in various Russian energy companies. His dismissal on his own initiative from the management of Russian consortia “would have been necessary to save his reputation as a former and successful federal chancellor. He unfortunately he has not followed that advice », Esken said Monday in statements to the public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk.
“Gerhard Schröder has been working for many years only as a businessman and we should stop having him as a noble statesman, an emeritus federal chancellor,” said the SPD leader, who stressed that “he earns his money by working for Russian public companies and his defense of Vladimir Putin against accusations of war crimes is completely absurd.” Asked directly if Gerhard Schröder, who governed Germany from 1998 to 2005 in coalition with the Greens, should hand over his party card, he emphatically said “yes, he should”. Already at the weekend, Esken had criticized his still co-religionist for his membership in the leadership of Russian energy consortiums.
Criticism against Schröder has intensified after the publication this Saturday of an exclusive interview with the New York Times in which he defends Putin and affirms that he wants to end the war. Despite the offensive war against Ukraine. The former foreign minister is in favor of maintaining close relations with Moscow. Schröder, 78, does not give details of the confidential meeting he had with Putin in the Russian capital last March. “What I can tell you is that Putin is interested in ending the war. Although that is not so easy. There are a couple of points still to be clarified”, Schröder points out in the New York newspaper, in which, asked about the Bucha massacre, he points out that these crimes “must be investigated”, but assures that the possible orders to commit them did not come from Putin, but from lower instances.
Schröder did not want, however, to comment on whether he is willing to accept the position he has been offered on the supervisory board of the Russian consortium Gazprom. The former foreign minister is a member of the board of directors of the Russian oil company Rosneft and was one of the promoters, as president of the supervisory board, of the Nordstram 2 gas pipeline, which connects Russia and Germany directly and through the Baltic Sea and whose inauguration has been suspended indefinitely. as part of the sanctions against the Moscow regime.
The leadership of the Social Democrats openly distanced itself from Schröder as soon as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began. Even before the war began, the former foreign minister accused Ukraine of “heating up tempers” and expressed his understanding of Moscow’s demands before kyiv and NATO. The two co-chairs of the SPD, Saskia Esken and Lars Klingbeil, demanded in an open letter the former Social Democratic leader to leave his various positions in Russian consortiums. So far they have received no response. Schröder has meanwhile become a liability for the government of the current Federal Chancellor, the Social Democrat, Olaf Scholz.
Criticisms against the former politician and now businessman who is presumed to have a millionaire fortune have also come from Ukraine. The mayor of kyiv and former boxer, Vitali Klitschko, demands sanctions against Schröder this Monday in the Bild newspaper. “In view of his propaganda in favor of the Kremlin, one wonders why Schröder lives in Hanover and not in Moscow?”, Points out Klitschko, who proposes freezing his bank accounts.
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