Former German Chancellor Schröder nominated for Gazprom board

BERLIN — Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has been nominated to join the board of directors at Gazprom, the state-owned Russian energy company behind the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Gazprom published an official list of nominees on Friday, saying the names would be voted on in June during a shareholders’ meeting in Saint Petersburg.

The news came a week after Schröder — a long-time friend of Vladimir Putin and who holds senior positions at Nord Stream and Rosneft — made headlines by saying on his podcast that Ukraine, not Russia, was “saber-rattling.”

Schröder was mocked for his comments from within Germany, which itself has been criticized for a perceived softness toward Putin at a time when Ukraine remains surrounded by a huge — and still growing — mass of Russian troops and weapons.

Schröder’s Gazprom nomination angered his opponents, with the chair of the defense committee in parliament, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, suggesting he should be stripped of the pension he receives as an ex-chancellor.

“It’s time to start thinking about withdrawing Gerhard Schröder’s allowance as a former chancellor,” Strack-Zimmermann, who is from the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), wrote on Twitter. “He harms the country he is meant to serve and willingly accepts more than good pay for it from an autocrat.”

Stefan Müller, of the Bavarian Christian Social Union, agreed, writing on social media: “Schröder gets a promotion from bosom buddy Putin. Across party lines, we should talk about stripping him of his official endowment as former chancellor.”

“He is damaging Germany,” Müller added.

Undeterred, Schröder on Friday afternoon, during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, took to LinkedIn to criticize those who have boycotted the event over Beijing’s human rights record, saying that China is Germany’s “most important sales market.”

“Anyone who wants to put pressure on China with boycott demands and moralizing foreign policy is playing a dangerous game,” he wrote.

Current German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will leave for Washington on Sunday for talks with U.S. President Joe Biden and is scheduled to visit Kyiv and Moscow a week later.

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