The German government is distancing itself from former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder after he reportedly attended a party with Russian President Vladimir Putin -- despite tension between Berlin and Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine.
German media report that Schroeder attended a meeting on April 28 in St. Petersburg, Russia, of natural-gas pipeline operator Nord Stream AG.
Schroeder is chairman of that firm's board.
After the event, Putin reportedly turned up for a celebration in honor of Schroeder's 70th birthday.
German officials on April 29 stressed that Schroeder was not in Russia on behalf of Chancellor Angela Merkel's government.
Schroeder, who was chancellor from 1998 to 2005, is said to have a close relationship with Putin, having once called him a "flawless democrat."
Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and dpa