Eesti 200 leader on Slava Ukraini fund use: We do not yet have enough facts
Eesti 200 leader Lauri Hussar said, that he does not yet have enough of the facts to take a position on the activities of Johanna-Maria Lehtme, a member of Eesti 200's parliamentary group and CEO of the NGO Slava Ukraini.
According to a report by Estonian daily Eesti Päevaleht on Saturday, Slava Ukraini transferred €1.5 million in Ukraine aid donations from Estonia to a private company called IC construction, which has ties to the leaders of its Ukrainian partners. It remains unclear what the Estonian NGO received in return.
Over the weekend, new facts have emerged regarding the use of money donated to Slava Ukraini. In light of the story published by Eesti Päevaleht, have you spoken to Johanna-Maria Lehtme about this?
I have spoken to Johanna-Maria Lehtme today about this and she has provided me with extensive answers. She has also said that she will give her explanations to the public. I believe that it is definitely crucial to explain this story.
What was her explanation as to why some of the money donated by Estonians has gone to a for- profit company?
We talked about this issue more broadly and it is certainly a matter for Slava Ukraini's board and council. We also talked to Johanna-Maria Lehtme about the fact that Eesti 200 are not going to discuss this issue at the moment because we do not have enough information. The plan is to wait for the audit, which has been initiated by the Slava Ukraini Council and board of directors, so that we can get a clearer picture of what exactly has been happening with Slava Ukraini. Regarding a number of issues, which have been covered in the press, Johanna-Maria Lehtme has pointed out, that they can be refuted by the facts. But that is something that we must ask Johanna-Maria Lehtme herself.
If the Prosecutor's Office were to open an investigation, would this development be considered sufficiently serious for the party to have to deal with the matter?
We will certainly take a position as and when new facts emerge. However, on the basis of the facts we have today, it is very difficult for Eesti 200 as a political party to discuss this issue. Therefore, it would certainly be premature to take any position right now. We are awaiting the (results of the) audit, which was initiated by Slava Ukraini's board and council.
In the recent Riigikogu elections, Johanna-Maria Lehtme ran on Eesti 200's list in the Tallinn constituencies of Haabersti, Põhja-Tallinn and Kristiine, receiving 5,251 votes. Her result was the best of all Eesti 200's candidates in the elections.
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Editor: Michael Cole