Slava Ukraini board member: First management structure changes already made

Johanna-Maria Lehtme.
Johanna-Maria Lehtme. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

According to a representative of the supervisory board of NGO "Slava Ukraini," the first changes to the organization's management structure have now been made. The board decided to begin a review process following suspicion that some of the NGO's funds had been misused.

Kristo Tohver, a member of Slava Ukraini's supervisory board, told ERR, that changes had already been implemented in relation to the day-to-day management of the organization and that things are now running smoothly.

Responding to a suggestion that the promised changes in the NGO's management structure are not yet reflected in the commercial register, Tohver said that while they have been agreed, they are not yet legally visible.

Over the weekend, it was announced that the supervisory board of NGO Slava Ukraini, which has been highly active in providing aid to Ukraine, had decided to expand the organization's management board, appointing additional members alongside current CEO Johanna-Maria Lehtme.

It was also decided, that a clear monitoring structure would be established to make cooperation with partner organizations more systematic and involve more experts and experienced professionals in the NGO's activities.

The board additionally commissioned an audit to assess whether Slava Ukraini's Ukrainian partner organizations have been sufficiently effective in helping the NGO achieve its goals.

Pending the results of the audit, the board opted to suspend payments to two Ukrainian partners due to concerns related to the efficiency of the use of certain funds.

Tohver, who is the spokesperson for Slava Ukraini's supervisory board, preferred to expand on the information released previously in relation to the issue. He said, that further details would only be provided after the NGO's general meeting on March 20.

At that meeting, an auditor will be elected, with Tohver having previously said that the auditing procees could be completed by the end of April.

The situation is complicated by the fact that the NGO does not have an official supervisory board. Slava Ukraini is managed by a board of between one and five members appointed for a term of two years by its general assembly. The latter can also remove board members. The general assembly is made up of all members. The organization's statutes also provide that the general assembly's decisions are binding irrespective of how many members vote. It is unknown how many members Slava Ukraini has.

This effectively makes the five-member supervisory board merely an advisory body, meaning the official say in the organization's matters is limited to that of five general assembly delegates.

Slava Ukraini's management board initially consisted of all three founding members – Elo Laura Aaspõllu, Janeli Puusaag and Johanna-Maria Lehtme. The former two left the board in early January after being absent from effective management since last summer.

On Sunday, the supervisory body said, that it has decided to expand the management board as the organization has grown and needs constant and thorough management, division of roles and supervision.

Slava Ukraini has collected a total of €6.5 million in donations to help Ukraine fight off Russian aggression. Among other things, it has put together 186,000 aid packages for Ukrainians living near the front line for €1.1 million.

The NGO has also helped Ukrainian military units with medical and personal protection devices and is funding medical trainings in Ukraine.

In addition to 54 fully equipped ambulances sent from Estonia, so-called guerilla ambulances are built on location – vehicles that can traverse rough terrain and bring the injured back from the front.

In the recent Riigikogu elections, Lehtme successfully ran as a candidate for Eesti 200. She won 5,251 votes in Tallinn's first electoral district of Haabersti, Põhja-Tallinn and Kristiine districts, finishing second only to Kristen Michal (Reform). Lehtme also won the most votes of all the candidates, who ran for Eesti 200.

Lehtme has won several personal awards for her work with Slava Ukraini. In January this year, she was named Estonia's "Person of the Year"  by the newspaper Postimees before being awarded the Order of the White Star IV class by Estonian President Alar Karis in February.

In May 2202, the European Commission's Representation in Estonia named Lehtme "European of the Year."


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Editor: Michael Cole

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