Saskia Esken is one of Scholz's two center-left Social Democrats co-leaders. She said that Gerhard Schroeder had been acting since many years as a businessman and that we should stop looking at him as an older statesman or former chancellor. His income comes from his work with Russian state companies.
Esken responded to a question about whether Schroeder should be removed from the party: "He should."
Schroeder is the chairman of Rosneft's supervisory board. He has also been involved in the Nord Stream 2 and Nord Stream 2 pipeline projects. He ignored repeated requests from Scholz and the party to resign from these posts. His office's head recently resigned, and Schroeder (78), who led the country between 1998 and 2005, has few defenders in Germany.
Later Monday, Esken stated that Schroeder's comments to The New York Times about the atrocities committed in Bucha, Ukraine made Esken's position less plausible. Schroeder was quoted saying that the matter needed to be investigated, but that he did not believe the orders would have come directly from Vladimir Putin, a friend of his for many years.
Esken stated that Esken's defense of Vladimir Putin in the face of accusations of war crimes was absurd. She said that it was necessary for Esken to give up his Russian energy positions "to salvage his reputation, which he had been a former and once very successful chancellor," but he did not follow this advice.
According to German news agency dpa, the local Social Democrats branch in Schroeder’s hometown of Hannover reported that it had received 14 requests for expulsion proceedings against Schroeder.
These requests will be decided by the Hannover branch's arbitration committee. However, it is not clear when they might decide. Esken pointed out that such proceedings are subject to "very high hurdles" which can take a long time.