Ukraine aid NGO founder Johanna-Maria Lehtme running for election

NGO Slava Ukraini CEO Johanna-Maria Lehtme.
NGO Slava Ukraini CEO Johanna-Maria Lehtme. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Activist Johanna-Maria Lehtme, the CEO of Estonian NGO Slava Ukraini now famous for her efforts in helping Ukraine, is running for election to the Riigikogu on Eesti 200's candidate list this March, she said in a public announcement filmed in Ukraine. As a politician, Lehtme intends to fight first and foremost for Estonia and Ukraine's freedom.

"Yesterday I made a decision while here in Kherson to run on Eesti 200's candidate list in the upcoming Riigikogu elections this year," Lehtme said in her video.

"And why them?" she continued. "I feel like they are a party that will give newcomers a voice — give them an opportunity. They are liberal; we share the same values. I'm asking for your support, I'm asking for your understanding, so that together we can continue helping Ukraine and take this aid provided over the past 11 months to a new level."

Lehtme said that she doesn't plan on turning into a "typical politician," adding that if she were just looking for a warm seat, she could go to Bakhmut.

"I intend to be exactly the same Johanna that I was before the war already, and that the general public has gotten to know me as over this past year," she stressed.

"I have two children: Sume, and Slava Ukraini," Lehtme continued, "And what I intend to fight for hasn't changed — that is Estonia and Ukraine's freedom. And it will be possible for me to focus on one main issue — that is helping and rebuilding Ukraine."

Lehtme is a cultural coordinator and activist as well as the founder and CEO of the NGO Slava Ukraini, which organizes humanitarian aid from Estonia to Ukraine. In 2022, she was named Citizen of the Year, Woman of the Year, European of the Year and daily Postimees' Person of the Year, and was awarded the Order of Merit, 3rd Class by Estonia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The 2023 Riigikogu elections, in which all of the Estonian parliament's 101 seats are up for election, will be held on Sunday, March 5.

MPs are elected to the Riigikogu for a five-year term.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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