Gerhard Schroeder, the former German chancellor turned advocate for the Russian state-owned gas giant Gazprom, said on Thursday he would be paid 250,000 euros (US$303,000) a year as chairman of the committee of shareholders of a controversial project to pipe Russian gas directly to Germany.
The north European gas pipeline (NEGP) will link Gazprom's massive network and abundant reserves directly to Germany. Schroeder came in for intense criticism in Germany when he accepted a post on the Gazprom board just after leaving office.
His opponents suggested that his close ties with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, had both helped usher the project into existence and secured him a leading role on its board.
His appointment was seen as a public relations coup for the monopoly, lending western respectability to an industry still struggling with its international image.
Schroeder let slip his salary in Moscow on Thursday at which he seemed rattled and lacking his usual smoothness before journalists.
The press conference was due to last an hour but was over in 20 minutes.
He parried further questions about the ethics of his new job by stressing the need for the pipe.
"The pipeline is not aimed against anyone. It allows us to ensure the reliable supply of gas to Europe," he said.
He denied there was anything inappropriate about his post.
The NEGP will deliver cheap gas to Germany, and possibly Britain, when it is extended. It will travel from the Russian port of Vyborg to Greifswald in Germany via the Baltic Sea, bypassing the Baltic states and Poland, which used to receive fees for the fuel's passage.
The NEGP is a joint venture between Gazprom, the German energy firm E.ON and BASF, the German conglomerate.
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