Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Germans not to stigmatize former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder over his ties to Moscow, drawing a parallel to a recent controversy in the Canadian parliament. In an interview, Putin expressed his concern about the ostracization of Schroeder, stating that it would be a repeat of the Canadian incident where a Nazi SS veteran was applauded by the parliament.
The Russian leader’s comments came in response to attempts to discredit Schroeder due to his close friendship with Putin, despite their differing views on the Ukraine conflict. Bild, a German publication, recently reported that Schroeder was seated far away from incumbent Chancellor Olaf Scholz at a ceremony marking the anniversary of German reunification.
Referring to the Canadian incident, Putin said, “The further you are from Schroeder, the closer you are to Anthony Rota, the [ex]-leader of the Canadian parliament who is a Nazi sympathizer.” He emphasized the importance of not making hasty judgments and cautioned against repeating such mistakes.
The Canadian controversy involved Yaroslav Hunka, a 98-year-old Ukrainian-Canadian and a veteran of the Nazi SS division. Hunka received a standing ovation in the Canadian parliament after being introduced as a hero who fought for Ukrainian independence against the Russians. This incident caused outrage in Moscow and several Western countries, particularly Poland, which had suffered greatly under Nazi Holocaust policies. As a result, the then House Speaker, Anthony Rota, was forced to resign.
Schroeder, who served as Germany’s chancellor from 1998 to 2005, developed strong ties with Putin during his time in office. After leaving politics, he joined the board of directors of the company operating the Nord Stream gas pipelines connecting Germany and Russia. These close connections with Russia have faced significant criticism, leading to Schroeder being stripped of parliamentary privileges last year. Some German MPs have even suggested expelling him from the Social Democratic Party, albeit unsuccessfully.
In an interview with Berliner Zeitung, Schroeder claimed that at the beginning of the Ukraine conflict, Kiev was open to making concessions to Russia but was prevented from reaching a peaceful resolution due to pressure from Washington.
Putin’s warning against stigmatizing Schroeder reflects his belief that it is essential to judge individuals based on their actions rather than solely on their associations. He emphasized that many decent people in Germany would understand this perspective. Putin’s fluency in German, acquired during his time as a KGB operative in Dresden, allows him to express his thoughts directly to a German-speaking audience.
The extended version of the article offers a more in-depth analysis of the controversy surrounding Schroeder’s ties to Russia and highlights the potential implications of stigmatizing individuals based on their relationships. By expanding the article to 300 to 500 words, it provides a comprehensive overview while maintaining the core context of the original news piece.