Former Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern Joins Board of Russian Railways

Russia’s state railway company appointed the former chancellor of Austria to its management board this week, continuing a trend of retired European politicians landing lucrative posts in Russia, Radio Liberty reports.

Christian Kern, 53, headed Austria’s national railway system before serving as chancellor of the central European nation from 2016-2017. Austria has been among a minority of EU member states that have called for the lifting of Western sanctions against Russia.

Kern’s name appears as an independent board member in a Russian Railways (RZD) statement published Tuesday.

Kern is following in the footsteps of Gerhard Schroeder, the former German chancellor, who was appointed chairman of Russia’s oil giant Rosneft in 2017 while remaining chairman of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.

In late 2004, Schroeder was widely criticized for calling Putin a “flawless Democrat.” German respect for Schroeder plummeted further over his ties to Russian business.

During his final months as chancellor, he shocked many Germans by shepherding through a multibillion-dollar pipeline project called Nord Stream, transporting gas from Russia to Germany. The pipeline is majority-owned by the Russian state gas company Gazprom. Shortly after leaving office, Schroeder became chairman of the pipeline shareholders’ committee.