Johanna-Maria Lehtme to leave Riigikogu
Eesti 200 MP Johanna Maria-Lehtme will be resigning from the Estonian parliament, the coalition party said in a press release. The decision comes in the wake of an investigation into alleged misuse of donations made to NGO Slava Ukraini.
"It is my personal decision. I would remain under heightened public attention as a member of the Riigikogu, which would get in the way of establishing the truth and a fair investigation. I also want to spare the party, which has come under considerable public pressure," Lehtme said.
She did not offer any comment regarding allegations against her and Slava Ukraini but reiterated here willingness to work with law enforcement.
Eesti 200 leader Lauri Hussar commended Lehtme for her decision to leave the parliament, suggesting it spares the reputation of the party and the Riigikogu.
"I commend her decision and say that it is important for law enforcement to be able to get to the bottom of all circumstances pertaining to the financials of Slava Ukraini," Hussar told members of the press.
Hussar said that the decision to leave the parliament came from Lehtme, adding that they spoke on Monday and Friday, immediately before Lehtme made her decision.
"She has stuck to her previously voiced position. I recommend waiting for the results of the investigation for clarity," the Eesti 200 leader remarked.
Lehtme founded the charity Slava Ukraini at the outbreak of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The Estonian public donated millions of euros to the NGO which provided humanitarian aid to front-line troops.
In recent months, allegations of misuse of funds against the NGO's partner organization in Ukraine have arisen and an audit and investigation are now underway in Estonia and Ukraine.
Lehtme is not a member of the Eesti 200 party but was elected to the Riigikogu in its ranks, winning over 5,000 votes and making her the party's most popular candidate.
Her Riigikogu seat will be taken up by Eesti 200 member who should join the parliament on May 20, based on a Board of the Riigikogu decision.
The Friday issue of weekly Eesti Ekspress wrote that Lehtme had to resign from a previous job after being accused of similar activity.
The article was updated to add comments from Eesti 200 leader Lauri Hussar.
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Editor: Marcus Turovski