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Gerhard Schröder’s office staff quit over Putin’s war on Ukraine

BERLIN — The office manager of Germany’s former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has resigned due to his boss’ refusal to quit lucrative positions at Russian gas companies.

Albrecht Funk, who has served as Schröder’s office manager for more than 20 years, last week decided to quit his job after Schröder wouldn’t follow his advice to quit roles at gas companies Rosneft and Gazprom following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, German news portal the Pioneer reported Tuesday.

According to the report, a total of four employees, including Funk, quit their jobs at Schröder’s office over the issue.

Last week, the former Social Democrat chancellor criticized Putin’s war via LinkedIn, but maintained that “both sides made mistakes,” sticking to his stance that NATO expanded too far east following the end of the Cold War, thus provoking the Kremlin.

Schröder’s halfhearted condemnation came after weeks of mounting pressure to immediately end his entanglement in Russian gas interests — pressure which he has so far resisted.

Demands have since grown louder for Schröder to be stripped of all the benefits an ex-chancellor enjoys in Germany, including handsome pension payments.

On the weekend, Lars Klingbeil, co-leader of the Social Democrats, called on the ex-chancellor to sever his Kremlin ties. “It is overdue to end business relations with Putin,” he wrote on Facebook. “I expect this unequivocally.”

A hardening of Germany’s policy toward Russia has followed the invasion, with consequences across society.

On Tuesday, the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra sacked its conductor Valery Gergiev after he refused to distance himself from Putin, while football club Schalke 04 ended its partnership with Gazprom on Monday.

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium policy service: Pro Energy and Climate. From climate change, emissions targets, alternative fuels and more, our specialized journalists keep you on top of the topics driving the Energy and Climate policy agenda. Email [email protected] for a complimentary trial. 

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