Schneider steps down from Russian firm board role
Former Economy Minister Etienne Schneider quit his board role at Russian investment giant Sistema, broadcaster RTL reported on Sunday, a U-turn for the social-democrat that comes just one day after he publicly defended the position despite the full-scale war in Ukraine.
Jeannot Krecké, Schneider's predecessor as economy minister, will step down from the board of the East West United Bank, which is owned by Sistema, RTL also reported, quoting an official statement from the two men.
On Saturday, criticism on Schneider refused to die down after he defended his directorship at Sistema, telling RTL: "we need to make sure that this Luxembourgish bank can continue exist, that people there don't lose their jobs," and that the firm was not on any sanctions lists against Russia.
The about-face comes as Western nations heaped an unprecedented amount of sanctions on Russia, which invaded Ukraine on Thursday, with Europe closing its air space for Russian planes, promising it would buy weapons for Ukraine and blocking banks' access to the SWIFT system for international payments.
The pair had initially stayed mum after the youth wing of their social-democrat party called on all "socialists" to quit Russian board jobs, while the LSAP's parliamentary leader Yves Cruchten called the positions "unfortunate", though he also said that no party rules had been broken.
"Despite all the criticism, Jeannot Krecké and I tried to fulfil our duties towards the board of the East West United Bank and its owner, the investment company Sistema in the interest of the employees and their families in Luxembourg," the statement said, which was quoted in full by RTL.
"We are hoping that our stabilisation efforts of the last days will bear fruit. But that is all we can do for now, and that is why we told our main shareholder that we are quitting from our positions in the respective boards."
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