Moscow (AFP) -

The Russian government has nominated former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, a close friend of President Vladimir Putin, to join the board of Rosneft, the energy giant under Western sanctions.

Schroeder was among seven nominees in a decree signed by Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev published on the Russian government's website late Friday. The names will go to a shareholders' vote in late September in a move to increase Rosneft's board from nine to 11.

Schroeder was nominated as a non-executive director of Rosneft, a company born out of Yukos, a state entity that later came under the control of government opponent Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Rosneft has been dogged by a string of legal claims from New York to Paris and Amsterdam since snaffling up Yukos after it was dismantled following Khodorkovsky's high-profile arrest in 2003 and jailing.

Friday's decree also named Rosneft director general Igor Sechin, a close ally of Putin, Kremlin official Andrei Belousov and Energy Minister Alexander Novak as the state's representatives on the board.

Rosneft, Russia's biggest oil producer, is 50 percent state-owned. 

Schroeder, a Social Democrat who was German chancellor from 1998 to 2005, celebrated his 70th birthday in a palace in St Petersburg during the crisis over Ukraine. He has publicly opposed sanctions placed on Rosneft because of Russia's interference in Ukraine.

While chancellor, Scroeder championed a Nord Stream pipeline agreement with Russia, which was signed during his last days in office.

Having since built a business career in Russia he heads up a shareholders' committee at Nord Stream, which supplies gas to Germany via the Baltic Sea.