Germany’s ex-Chancellor Schroeder sues parliament over privileges

The 78-year-old is demanding he be given back a parliamentary office in the lawsuit filed with a Berlin court.

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is suing the country’s parliament in a bid to restore special privileges he was stripped of in May, according to his lawyer.

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 on Friday.

A German parliamentary budget committee in May ruled Schroeder, 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 Schroeder’s parliamentary office and wind it down was illegal, according to a statement from the law firm obtained by DPA.

It is “claimed that retired Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder 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.

Involvement with Russia

The former chancellor, who was in office between 1998 and 2005, has been criticised 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 Schroeder to distance himself from Putin increased after Russia’s full-scale invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

In May, Schroeder 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 Schroeder 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.