German Social Democrats (SPD) President Saskia Esken has called on her predecessor and former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to leave the party. The reason is his continuing reluctance to distance himself from Russian President Vladimir Putin despite the two-month Russian invasion of Ukraine. According to the DPA, a similar challenge is unparalleled on the German political scene. Former heads of government usually enjoy respect in their parties.
Schröder, who holds important and lucrative positions in several Russian companies, has considered Putin a personal friend for years. In the past, he said, among other things, that he was a purebred Democrat, and after the attack on Ukraine, he refused to convict him. Because of this, he is the target of increasing criticism.
For the time being, Esken graduated today when asked by the Deutschlandfunk radio station if he should leave, “He should.” “He (Schröder) must decide whether he wants to continue to support Putin or whether he wants to be a member of the Social Democrats – the two do not go together,” said Thomas Kutschaty, who will lead the party in May’s most populous federal state in North Rhine-Westphalia.
The current appeals from politicians are probably a reaction to Schröder’s words from an interview with The New York Times. In it, he made it clear that he did not want to leave positions in Russian companies. He also spoke about the friendship with Putin and that the massacre in Buč near Kiev, where over 400 Ukrainians had died, must be investigated. He said he did not believe Putin had ordered him.
If Schröder, who was also abandoned by his closest collaborators, does not leave the SPD alone, which is not yet indicated, the party will decide on his fate. His home organization in Hanover has already met 14 demands for party proceedings, which could end in his expulsion. However, this procedure can be quite lengthy.