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NGO Slava Ukraini appoints former top ministry official as board member

NGO Slava Ukraini held a press conference on March 23, 2023 to announce a new board member.
NGO Slava Ukraini held a press conference on March 23, 2023 to announce a new board member. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Ukrainian aid NGO Slava Ukraini has appointed the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications' longtime former top official as its new board member. The charity is currently auditing its activities over the suspected misuse of funds.

Marika Priske was announced as the new board member on Monday evening during a press conference with the NGO's founder Johanna Maria Lehtme and advisory council member Kristo Tohver.

Priske worked as the ministry's secretary general for over 15 years. She was let go from the position in 2021.

Slava Ukraini, founded a year ago at the outbreak of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, has one other board member, Lehtme. It also has a seven-member advisory board.

Marika Priske. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Last week, the charity announced it would hold an audit of its activities after concerns arose over money given to its partner organizations in Ukraine.

Tohver said the party will not disclose more information about the tip-off at the moment.

"Today we are fully convinced that Slava Ukraini is a credible organization," he said. However, new procedures are planned to better monitor where and how funds are spent in the future.

"We have to realize that we can never guarantee what will happen with partners on the ground," Tohver said.

NGO Slava Ukraini held a press conference on March 23, 2023 to announce a new board member. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Lehtme has previously said more information will be given after the audit has been carried out.

She said the news has also affected the number of donations given to the charity.

"We have lost donations. Our financial manager also gave us an overview today that the volume has fallen significantly," Lehtme said.

The charity has received over €6.5 million in donations since it was launched. It has sent medical supplies, first aid equipment, humanitarian aid and other essentials to those on the frontline.

Lehtme stood in the Riigikogu election for Eesti 200 earlier this month and was the party's most popular candidate. Last year, she won the Citizen of the Year award.

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Editor: Barbara Oja, Helen Wright

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