Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder is being ostracized in his home country after defending Russian President Vladimir Putin following the invasion of Ukraine and for refusing to give up lucrative jobs at Russian state-owned companies.
Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD) has called on Schröder to leave the party, BNN Bloomberg reported.
Social Democrats leader Saskia Esken told Deutschlandfunk radio on Monday that Schröder quitting the lucrative jobs was "required to save his reputation as a former and once successful chancellor. Unfortunately, he didn't follow this advice."
Chancellor Olaf Scholz, a fellow Social Democrat, also has said Schröder should resign from his board seats on Russian energy companies.
Esken said the challenging process to boot Schröder from the party had begun.
The party leader spoke after Schröder told the New York Times that he would quit his business jobs at Russian state-owned companies only if Putin stopped gas deliveries to Europe.
Schröder, who served as German chancellor 1998-2005, distanced himself from the Russia-Ukraine war, but not from Putin, during his Times interviews.
He told the Times that atrocities in Bucha "has to be investigated" but added that he did not think those orders would have come from Putin.
Esken said Schröder's "defense of Vladimir Putin against the reproach of war crimes is simply absurd."
Many Germans are criticizing Schröder, 78, for using his clout and Russian connections to enrich himself at the expense of Germany, the Times reported.
"He took advantage of the reputation and influence of the chancellor's office and offered himself up as an agent for Russian interests to get rich," conservative lawmaker Norbert Röttgen told the Times.
Schröder told the Times that distancing himself from the Russian president now would lose him the trust of the one man who can end the war – Putin.
Since Russia began its unprovoked attack on Ukraine, the entire staff of Schröder's parliamentary office resigned in protest. Those staffers included his chief of staff and speechwriter of 20 years.
Schröder relinquished his honorary citizenship in Hanover, Germany, before the city could strip it from him. When the former chancellor's favorite soccer team, Borussia Dortmund, demanded a strong statement against Putin, Schröder canceled his team membership.
The Times reported that Schröder remains chairman of the shareholder committee of Nord Stream, reportedly earning about $270,000 a year, and served as head of the supervisory board of Nord Stream 2 until it was shuttered before the war.
He has also presided over the board of the Russian oil company Rosneft, earning another $600,000 a year, since 2017, the Times said.
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