Ex-German chancellor’s staff quit over Russian ties – reports – RT World News

Staff members are said to have left in response to Gerhard Schroeder’s refusal to vacate positions at energy giants Rosneft and Gazprom

Gerhard Schroeder, a German social-democratic politician who served as the country’s chancellor from 1998 to 2005, saw his entire staff leave him. German media say the four quit after Schroeder refused to leave his posts at two Russian energy companies.

According to German news portal Pioneer, Albrecht Funk, who had served as director of Schroder’s taxpayer-funded office for more than 20 years, resigned last week after his boss refused to leave his posts at Russian energy companies Rosneft and Gazprom despite Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking to Reuters, Funk said that along with him, two secretaries and a driver had asked to be transferred to other positions within the chancellery. Funk, however, did not reveal his reasons at the point of sale.

Neither Schroeder himself nor the Chancellery have yet commented on this.

The former Chancellor is known to be on good terms with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In addition, since leaving office in 2005, he has held several positions in Russian or Russian-affiliated companies.

His closeness to Moscow has come under scrutiny at home over the past week after Russia launched what it described as a “special military operationin Ukraine. Politicians from Schroeder’s SPD party, as well as other political forces in the country, pressured him to sever ties with Russian companies.

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 also played a role.

However, he has so far refused to give in to pressure over the positions he holds in Russian companies. He argued that Europe should not completely sever relations with Russia despite the current escalation.

Schroeder’s stance has seen some in Germany demand that all perks and benefits 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 aimed at “demilitarize and denazifythe country, and protect the Russian-speaking population of the Donbass republics. Ukraine and its Western allies have dismissed the claims as merely a pretext for waging a war of aggression against a sovereign state and insist that Putin is seeking to install a pro-Russian puppet government in Kiev.

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