NGO Slava Ukraini transfers €1.5 million to firm with suspicious background
NGO Slava Ukraini transferred €1.5 million in Ukraine aid donations from Estonia to a private company called IC Construction that has ties to its Ukrainian partner's heads, while it is unclear what the nonprofit got in return, Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) reported on Saturday.
The scandal is centered around NGO All for Victory (Все для Перемоги), which is Slava Ukraini's main Ukrainian partner, and a company owned by its key members called IC Construction. Both organizations have ties to former top Lviv city officials. While the Estonian press has already reported on All for Victory, the lion's share of sums in question moved – over €1 million – was transferred from the account of Slava Ukraini to that of IC Construction.
The Estonian paper writes that Hennadiy Vaskiv, head of All for Victory, is a "close friend" of NGO Slava Ukraini leader Johanna-Maria Lehtme, while IC Construction is run by Roman Panasyuk who used to work with Vaskiv at the Lviv city government. EPL also points out that until the last days of August, 2022, IC Construction was owned and run by Oleksandr Tchernov who is also head of logistics for All for Victory. Tchernov then left the company which was registered in the name of Marta Luta, a nail salon employee working at a company the trade mark of which is owned by Vaskiv's wife Oksana. His daughter Viktoria also works at the salon.
EPL writes that the company's business activity picked up last February, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Its sales revenue came to 41.7 million hryvnias or around €1 million and net profit to 9.3 million hryvnias or around a quarter of a million euros last year. "Panasyuk told our colleague from Kyiv Independent that almost all of the company's profit comes from Slava Ukraini, in other words, money people have donated to help Ukraine in Estonia."
Slava Ukraini has also made payments to IC Construction in the first months of this year, which allegedly amount to €1.5 million, meaning that a quarter of the roughly €6.5 million Slava Ukraini has taken in from Estonians so far has been transferred to a "nail salon worker's firm" with no information on what kind of services or goods IC Construction was meant to provide for the Estonian NGO," Eesti Päevaleht remarked.
Both Johanna-Maria Lehtme and Slava Ukraini's new supervisory board member Kristo Tohver refuted suspicions voiced by EPL.
Suspicions appear in March
The supervisory body of Slava Ukraini said on March 12 that it has decided to conduct a review of the nonprofit's activities as doubts have reached the supervisory and management organs regarding the credibility of two of their Ukrainian partners with ties to one another. The NGO stopped making payments to the partners for the duration of the review process.
Slava Ukraini has not shed light on the sums in question.
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.
Johanna-Maria Lehtme ran for the Riigikogu in the March 5 election in the ranks of the Eesti 200 party and was elected. She took 5,251 votes in the electoral district made up of the Haabersti, Põhja-Tallinn and Kristiine districts of the capital, second only to Reform Party's Kristen Michal. Lehtme put in the best result out of all Eesti 200 candidates.
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Editor: Mait Ots, Marcus Turovski