Lehtme prepared to step down from NGO Slava Ukraini role if necessary

Slava Ukraini founder and manager Johanna-Maria Lehtme.
Slava Ukraini founder and manager Johanna-Maria Lehtme. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

CEO of Estonian NGO Slava Ukraini and Riigikogu member Johanna-Maria Lehtme (Eesti 200) said, that she is prepared to step down from her leadership role at the NGO if necessary.

"What I can say about Slava Ukraini is, that for me the most important thing is maintaining Slava Ukraini's good name and reputation, so that we can continue to support Ukraine. If the (NGO's) council or the other board member, Marika Priske, believe it is time for me to leave, then I will put the organization ahead of my own personal interests and Slava can find a new leader," Lehtme told Estonian news outlet Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) in an interview on Tuesday.

"However, I don't feel that I should leave the Riigikogu at the moment. My task is still to support Ukraine and to do so in every possible way. By doing this, I will also be helping the Estonian state," Lehtme added.

In the interview with EPL, Lehtme confirmed that she had only learned of the suspicions about Slava Ukraini's partners in Ukraine from the NGO's council, and that they came from sources in Ukraine. She also insisted, that this was an information operation and that the problems should have been resolved by the organization internally.

Lehtme added, that she would be seeking clarification from Slava Ukraini's Ukrainian partners regarding what had happened to the funds.

In mid-April, Eesti Päevaleht reported, that part of the money donated to Slava Ukraini in Estonia had transferred to a Ukrainian company, IC Construction. The company, which allegedly has a fictitious owner, made a profit of €250,000 last year. The only activity it appears to have been involved in during that period was with the Estonian NGO Slava Ukraini.

Since Russia's full scale military invasion began last February, Slava Ukraini has collected around €6.5 million in donations to support Ukraine. The NGO has been helping Ukrainian units with medical and defense equipment, as well as funding medical training on the ground in Ukraine.

In addition to the 54 fully equipped ambulances sent from Estonia, so-called guerrilla ambulances, which can withstand the rough terrain and get injured people off the front, are also being built on the ground in Ukraine,

Lehtme, who is currently head of the NGO, was recently elected to the Riigikogu on Eesti 200's list, winning more votes than any of the party's other candidates. She was also named Estonian Citizen of the Year for her work to support Ukraine as it defends itself from Russian aggression.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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