these European leaders who reluctantly leave the boards of directors of Russian groups

Nicolas Sarkozy resigned before the war broke out. The former head of state then held the position of special adviser and chairman of the strategic advisory committee to the board of directors of Reso Garantia, one of the main insurance companies in Russia. “Since the fall of 2021, he no longer has any mandate”says his spokesperson.

The former President of the Republic faced other difficulties in the country. A few months earlier, in January 2021, the site Mediapart had revealed the opening of a preliminary investigation by the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office for charges of “trading in influence” and “laundering of crimes or misdemeanors” concerning a consultancy contract worth 3 million euros awarded by Mr. Sarkozy with Reso Garantia. A company controlled by two oligarchs, the Russian-Armenian brothers Sergey and Nikolay Sarkisov, and in which the French insurer Axa holds a 38.6% stake.

Since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, European public opinion has discovered the multitude of former leading political and economic personalities who officiated in recent years for large Russian companies. Among them, in addition to Nicolas Sarkozy, the French François Fillon and Dominique Strauss-Kahn; but also former Italian heads of government Matteo Renzi, Finnish Esko Aho and Paavo Lipponen, German Gerhard Schröder, and Austrians Christian Kern and Wolfgang Schüssel. Or Maurice Leroy, Minister for the City of the François Fillon government, the British Greg Barker (former Minister of Energy) and George Osborne (ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer), or Karin Kneissl, appointed by the far right to head of Austrian diplomacy in 2017.

Fillon forced to resign

More than a month after the start of the conflict, some are still clinging to their mandates, like the former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, chairman of the board of directors of Rosneft, Russia’s leading oil group, and of the shareholder committee of Nord Stream 2, the Russian-German gas pipeline suspended since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The majority of these personalities, however, resigned, often reluctantly, under public pressure or because of economic sanctions against Moscow.

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François Fillon had recently held two terms with large Russian companies when Vladimir Putin started the war. He first joined the board of directors of Zarubezhneft (owned by the Russian state), a company specializing in the development and exploitation of hydrocarbon deposits, in June 2021. Then, in December 2021, he obtained a seat as a director of the petrochemical giant Sibur, controlled in particular by Leonid Mikhelson, one of the richest men in Russia, and by a close associate of President Vladimir Putin, Gennady Timchenko, targeted by recent sanctions of the Kingdom -United.

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