Executives at Russia’s state-owned energy giant Rosneft on Friday elected former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to their board.
Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin endorsed Schröder said his spot on the board would prove beneficial to the energy company.
“The appointment of Mr. Schroeder to the board of directors as an independent member will obviously facilitate the company’s international development, expansion of its presence in Europe, and establishment of efficient ties with Western partners,” he said at the Friday shareholders’ meeting, according to the TASS state news agency.
Schröder’s decision to accept the Rosneft nomination, which was put forward by the Russian government, has been vocally rebuked back in Berlin by all major parties, including his own Social Democrats (SPD).Rosneft is on the European Union’s list of companies facing sanctions following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The chair of the Bundestag’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Norbert Röttgen, told German public broadcaster ZDF on Friday that it was “completely unbelievable” that Schröder would “cash in” on his earlier role as chancellor at a Russian company.
Rosneft was a “central building block” in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s system of power, Röttgen said. He went on to accuse Schröder of working to heighten Germany’s energy dependence on Russia.
Ahead of the German federal election, Schröder denied that his position on the Rosneft board would damage the SPD’s chances of victory. Martin Schulz, the SPD candidate who ultimately fell short, said he had told Schröder of his concerns over the position but also called it “a private matter” for the former chancellor. Reports from within the SPD, which saw its worst electoral results since World War II, suggested that party members were incensed with their former leader’s new role.
Schröder’s Gazprom links
The former chancellor has enjoyed a long friendship with Russia’s Putin, going as far as saying the Russian leader a “flawless democrat.” Shortly after leaving the chancellery in 2005, Schröder became board chairman for the Russian-German gas pipeline, Nord Stream.Russia’s other state-owned energy giant, Gazprom, owns a majority stake in the Nord Stream pipeline, and Schröder has worked closely with the firm ever since. He became chairman a consortium shareholder’s committee in which Gazprom also held a majority stake.
Last year, he went on to become chairman of the board of directors at Nord Stream 2, a Gazprom subsidiary.
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