German Finance Minister Christian Lindner has demanded cuts to state financial support for former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder due to his links to Kremlin-backed Russian business interests.
“There should be consequences,” Lindner told Germany’s Funke Media Group in an interview published on Saturday. “For me, it is no longer conceivable that an office is provided for him by the taxpayer.”
Since Moscow launched its war in Ukraine, Schröder has faced growing pressure to resign from all his positions with Russian energy companies and to publicly denounce Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has yet to do either — in a recent interview with the New York Times, Schröder said he “[doesn’t] do mea culpa” as “it’s not my thing.”
Having served as chancellor from 1998 to 2005, the Social Democrat benefits from various forms of state support, including funding for an office. But Lindner, leader of the liberal Free Democrats, declared: “Former incumbents of leading posts who appear to be on the side of criminal governments cannot count on the support of this state.”
Schröder is also under pressure from his own party. Saskia Esken, one of the two co-leaders of the Social Democrats, told a German radio show earlier this week she wants Schröder to leave the party and that several motions to pave the way for his departure are underway.
For his part, Lindner also called for a more general revamp of benefits for former chancellors and federal presidents. “In this context, one would also have to talk about a kind of code of honor as far as behavior is concerned,” he said.