Ex-German Chancellor Schroder sues parliament over revoked privileges

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder is suing the country’s Parliament in a bid to restore special privileges he was stripped of in May, his lawyer confirmed on Friday.

The 78-year-old is demanding he be given back a parliamentary office in the lawsuit filed with the Berlin Administrative Court, his Hanover-based lawyer Michael Nagel told dpa news agency.

A German parliamentary budget committee in May ruled Schroder, long the subject of fierce criticism in Germany for his ties to Russia, must give up his right to an office at the Bundestag, though he was to continue to receive his pension and security detail.

The former Chancellor’s legal team is arguing that the Bundestag budget committee’s decision to cut funding for Schroder’s parliamentary office and wind it down was illegal, according to a statement from the law firm obtained by dpa news agency.

It is “claimed that retired Chancellor Gerhard Schroder is no longer exercising his so-called ‘remaining official duties’. However, it is not specified what ‘remaining official duties’ are at all, how to determine whether they are exercised or not exercised and furthermore which procedure must be adhered to in this regard”, the statement read.

The former Chancellor, who was in office between 1998 and 2005, has been criticized for years for his involvement with Russian state-owned companies and is considered a close personal friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The pressure on Schroder to distance himself from Putin increased after Russia’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

In May, he finally announced that he would leave the supervisory board of the Russian energy giant Rosneft. He also turned down a nomination for a supervisory board position at Gazprom, another Russian energy giant.

His centre-left SPD party decided there were no grounds to expel him from the party on Monday after several weeks of consideration.

The committee in the northern German city of Hanover said that Schroder did not violate the party rules of the SPD by engaging with Russian state-owned companies, meaning there is no basis for expulsion or even reprimand.

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