11th Dec 2023

MEPs urge sanctioning the likes of ex-chancellor Schröder

  • Gerhard Schröder is the chairman of the board of Nord Stream AG and of Rosneft (Photo:
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Former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Austria's ex-foreign minister Karin Kneissl came under fire on Thursday (19 May) — after the European Parliament urged EU countries to sanction them for their close Kremlin ties.

In the resolution, MEPs said Schröder should be blacklisted if he does not quit the board of Russian state-owned oil giant Rosneft and not take a top job at Gazprom's board, which he was nominated for in February.

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The non-bonding resolution also mentioned Kneissl, who was a minister under the government of Sebastian Kurz, and has danced with Russian president Vladimir Putin at her wedding.

MEPs urged the EU to "extend the list of individuals targeted by EU sanctions to the European members of the boards of major Russian companies and to politicians who continue to receive Russian money".

The resolution "notes that former politicians such as Esko Aho, Francois Fillon and Wolfgang Schüssel have recently resigned from their positions in Russian firms" and "strongly demands" that Kneissl and Schröder do the same.

The resolution, which passed on Thursday with 575 votes in favour and the support of the four biggest parties in the parliament, builds pressure on European politicians who have taken up key roles in Russian state companies.

However, it is up to the unanimous decision of the 27 EU governments to add people to the sanctions list.

Schröder headed the German government as a Social Democrat chancellor from 1998 to 2005, and has later worked for the pipeline company Nord Stream and Russia's Gazprom.

Kneissl works as a blogger for Russian Today, which has been banned in the EU, and sits on the supervisory board of Rosneft.

"By serving in top positions of Kremlin-affiliated corporations, the former Austrian foreign minister Karin Kneissl and former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder are de facto closely cooperating with Russia," centre-right German MEP Markus Ferber said.

"Such behaviour is unacceptable at a time when Russia is breaking international law and committing war crimes," Feber said, adding that MEPs ask the two politicians to step down.

Spanish liberal MEP Luis Garicano said it is "outrageous" that Gerhard Schröder continues to get paid for his position in Rosneft. "Being a former chancellor should not shield him from being sanctioned".

"Let's end this impunity," he added.

The MEPs call for sanctions follows a decision by the current Berlin government to cut back Schröder's perks he enjoys as ex-chancellor.

Liberal finance minister Christian Lindner said it was unthinkable that a former chancellor who is now "openly doing lobby work for the criminal rule of Vladimir Putin is still given an office by taxpayers," Deutsche Welle reported.

In an unapologetic interview with the New York Times, Schröder defended Putin, claiming that the orders to murder civilians in Bucha, around Kyiv, had not come from the Russian president, but from military commanders on the ground.

The resolution urges EU governments to extend the list of blacklisted individuals to include Russian oligarchs, taking into account the list of 6,000 individuals put together by the foundation of opposition figure Alexei Navalny, who is currently held in a Russian prison camp.

MEPs also call for an extension of EU-sanctioned Russian-affiliated media entities operating in the EU, "specifically the GRU-affiliated 'news agency' InfoRos".

The EU has so far blacklisted 1,093 individuals and 80 entities because of the war on Ukraine.

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