Schröder to be stripped of ex-chancellor privileges over Russian stance

Former leader a pariah in Germany after refusing to condemn Putin over Ukraine

Germany's ruling Social Democratic Party (SPD) are to strip former party leader Gerhard Schröder of ex-chancellor privileges in protest at his Russian lobby work and ties to president Vladimir Putin.

Mr Schröder holds two supervisory board seats of state-controlled Russian energy companies, earning him close to a seven-figure salary, with rumours of a third seat in view next month.

So far he has refused to stand down, or explicitly condemn Mr Putin for Russia's war in Ukraine. Though already facing expulsion from his party, Berlin officials found no way to cut his salary without breaching the constitution.

However, they say they have found a legal loophole to permanently remove other entitlements, such as seven staff members and six offices in the Bundestag complex in Berlin, at a cost of €407,000 annually.

Last March all of Mr Schröder’s Berlin office staff quit in protest at his pro-Russian stance and his office suite remains largely unused. Leading figures in the SPD parliamentary party say they have found a way to ensure these dormant privileges are never re-activated.

“We will initiate a proposal for the office of the ex-chancellor Gerhard Schröder,” confirmed Ralf Mützenich, SPD Bundestag floor leader.

The proposal would change rules for former leaders, linking their Bundestag privileges to activities as a former political leader.

Mr Schröder's friendship with Mr Putin and his engagement for Russian political and economic interests has turned him into a pariah in Germany, particularly in Berlin political circles.

His home town of Hanover has stripped him of his freedom of the city; he resigned from his local soccer team Hannover 96 and a number of Bundesliga teams have dropped him as an honorary member.

With the vote likely as early as Thursday in the Bundestag's budgetary committee, the SPD's interior minister Nancy Faeser urged her party to "throw him out".

The SPD's coalition partners, the Greens and liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) are anxious to go further and add Mr Schröder's name to the EU's Russian sanctions list.

Asked last month by the New York Times if he regretted his pro-Russian stance, Mr Schröder said: “I don’t do mea culpa.”