Alexei Nikolsky / AP Photo / RIA Novosti
For four years, the US and the European Union imposed sanctions against Russia for its aggression in Ukraine. The measures restrict the travel and destination assets of key persons associated with the Kremlin.
But Ukraine says there is a great confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Europeans should consider, but not – former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder] "It is important that there are sanctions against those who Putin Promote projects abroad, "said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin last month the German newspaper image . "Gerhard Schröder is the main lobbyist for Putin worldwide."
Alexei Nikolsky / AP Photo / RIA Novosti
The comments of the Ukrainian official came after a Wall Street Journal also asked why Schröder avoided sanctions.
The 74-year-old Social Democrat is also one of Germany's most beloved and widely used post-war leaders. Schroeder became chancellor in 1998 and oversaw a major overhaul of the country's social and labor system, with the aim of boosting economic and employment growth.
He won a second term in 2002, but his quest for reform eventually led to his political demise. In July 2005, he lost a vote of no confidence in parliament and Angela Merkel's conservatives took over for later early elections.
The transformation of Schröder's relationship with Russia was equally dramatic.
When he became Chancellor, he tried to distance himself from the close ties his predecessor Helmut Kohl had with Russian President Boris Yeltsin. This changed after the election of Vladimir Putin in 2000, said the biographer Boris Reitschuster from Putin, a former Moscow correspondent of the German online magazine Focus . He said that Putin and Schröder, who spoke in German, became friends quickly.
"Putin once said as a KGB officer that he had learned to pull people to his side to make people," said Reitschuster. "The Russian opposition says Gerhard Schroeder is his masterpiece."
At the end of 2004 Schröder was widely criticized for calling Putin a "flawless Democrat". German respect for Schröder continued because of his ties to Russian business.
During his last months as Chancellor, he shocked many Germans by transporting them from Russia to Germany through a multi-billion dollar pipeline project called Nord Stream Gas. The pipeline is majority owned by the Russian gas company Gazprom. Shortly after taking office, Schröder became chairman of the pipeline committee of pipeline shareholders.
"The question arose – was there a connection?" said Timo Lange, a political scientist at the watchdog group LobbyControl in Berlin. "This is something that leads to a huge loss of public confidence when many people say, 'Aha, that proves politicians are not trying to push the country forward," but their paperbacks.
Other controversial Schroeder posts related to Russian interests followed. Last autumn, he became chairman of the board of Rosneft, Russia's largest oil company, which is on the EU and US sanctions list.
"I do not think what Mr. Schröder is doing is right," said Merkel ] Image in an interview last summer before Schroeder adopted
But Wolfgang Buechele, the chairman of the German Committee on Eastern Europeans Economic relations, Schroeder's Rosneft post defended. He said that it makes sense to have a German on board, considering how much Germany – Europe's largest economy – is dependent on Russian gasoline.
"Russia is the largest energy supplier in Germany at this time," said Buechele. Who is the managing director of the engineering company M + W Group. "It will stay that way for long, because pipeline gas is not available from so many sources."
Schroeder's office rejected NPR's request for an interview
Last summer, during a campaign event for his Social Democrats Schroeder accused those who criticized his Russian relations for having an interest in starting a new Cold War.
But Reitschuster said Schröder's continuing ties with Russia were embarrassing for the Germans.
"Schroederization" is a foreign word in [the] Russian language, [which] means corruption of the political elite, "he said." And we [in Germany] are now very corrupt from Vladimir Putin and his money, and that is why we have the atmosphere that we should be good friends with Russia. "
" How Gerhard Schröder advocates for Putin's positions in Germany is repugnant and contradicts the oath he once gave to the German people and German interests. " said German legislator Omid Nouripour, who heads the Greens foreign affairs committee, Schroeder's former coalition partner.
He accused the former chancellor of having committed a bold conflict of interest.
"Imagine, Barack Obama Now, I do not know, the lobbyist for the Chinese government in the United States, "he said," that would harm the office of the US president. " I realize that in this country we need different rules for people leaving office.
Like many other Germans, he wants top German officials such as Chancellor and Chancellor For more than the current 18-month maximum, presidents are prevented from lobbying or accepting jobs that pose a conflict of interest after Schröder's post-government line.) But they prefer sanctions against Schröder.
"The German government and Chancellor see no reason to consider such things," said government spokesman Steffen Seibert in March 1963, in reference to the idea
Their restraint may have something to do with the fact that many Germans are tired of sanctions.
Punishment for Russian officials and persons close to the Kremlin cost Europe more economic than Russia, according to German business leader Buechele  Nearly three out of five Germans, according to a poll, want to see the conservative newspaper Die Welt to improve relations with Russia. As many in Germany see it, the approval of Putin's cronies – even a German – probably will not bring them closer.