Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has been sung checkmate. His close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin has cost him in just two moves the cutting of the privileges reserved for former leaders, a request from the European Parliament to be included on the sanctioned list and, this Friday, the departure of the council of supervision of the Russian state oil company Rosneft.

The statement announcing Schröder’s departure from the oil company, the largest in Russia and one of the most important in the world in terms of volume of production and reserves, has been brief. It was the reproduction of the will of the former chancellor. “It is impossible for me to prolong my mandate.” There are no further explanations, but they are not necessary either. The European Parliament threatened the day before to sanction Schröder for his refusal to abandon a position understood as an intermediary between Russia and Western markets, a situation that contravened the sanctions against Moscow. Put between a rock and a hard place, Schröder decided to spare Germany the disgrace of having a former head of government blacklisted. Schröder’s resignation occurred almost at the same time as that of the managing director of the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, also German Matthias Warnig, a former Stasi officer, the political police of the former GDR and an old “partner” of the agent of the KGB Vladimir Putin.

Schröder has been in the spotlight since he left the Chancellery to make way for Angela Merkel and not because he decided to drown his electoral defeat in business, but because he sold his soul to Putin. Meanwhile, criticism of the millionaire former Social Democratic chancellor has been recurrent, although given the importance of the character, he was allowed to do so. The invasion of Ukraine changed everything and it was Schröder himself who put himself on the target by calling kyiv’s demands for weapons “sabre noise”. Schröder tried to calm the waters by condemning the invasion and after a period of silence emerged as a possible mediator between the parties in conflict, a role for which he never had the approval of the German Government and for which he was not qualified due to his lack of impartiality.

The figure of Schröder, 78, thus became a burden for the Social Democratic Party (SPD), to the point that there are sectors that call for his expulsion if he does not voluntarily leave the party. But Schröder clings to the sail of a ship that, since the resignation of the team that led his office as former chancellor, has drifted.

On Thursday, Parliament’s Budget Committee approved a motion by the coalition government parties to slash the former chancellor’s special rights, including his office in the Bundestag. In the motion, Social Democrats, Greens and Liberals argued that the former chancellor no longer performs any duties stemming from his position, so his office should “be put on hold”.

Last year, the staff and travel expenses of the employees of the former chancellor’s office amounted to almost 419,000 euros, a figure that does not include the costs of office space and equipment. With the snip given by the Commission to that office, Schröder will only maintain his pension and his personal protection as privileges.

The move against the Schröder chip is also a warning to sailors. From now on, the Government of the day will only guarantee assignments to former foreign ministers based on the performance of obligations derived from their previous position and not on status. In other words, general rules are established that all former chancellors must comply with, including Angela Merkel.

The cut in Schröder’s privileges does not go far enough in the opinion of the conservative opposition, which is also asking to withdraw his pension for the damage he has caused to Germany’s international reputation. Schröder is silent, but has asked his lawyers to legally verify his privileges as former chancellor.

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