We, 31.05.2023

Johanna Maria Lehtme recalled from Slava Ukraini's management board

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Johanna-Maria Lehtme.
Johanna-Maria Lehtme. Photo: Eero Vabamägi

In relation to criminal proceedings having been launched in Estonia and Ukraine into the activities of the non-profit organization Slava Ukraini and its Ukrainian partner, the supervisory board of Slava Ukraini decided on Tuesday to recall Johanna Maria Lehtme from the management board for the duration of the investigation.

«The presumption of innocence applies in Estonia, and with this decision the supervisory board does not take a position on Johanna Maria Lehtme's guilt. We have initiated a review, but unfortunately it will take time to reach the results. That is why we are ready to comprehensively cooperate with the investigative authorities and will pass on all the information at our disposal to the investigators. The same questions are have been relevant for us since the beginning of March; unfortunately, the supervisory board has not found answers to them with its limited rights and opportunities,» the announcement by the supervisory board of Slava Ukraini reads.

«Therefore, we welcome the criminal proceedings launched in Estonia and Ukraine enabling the law enforcement agencies to determine as quickly as possible if the donations sent from Estonia to Ukraine have been misused or not,» the board added.

The supervisory board decided that in order to prevent a possible conflict of interests, Lehtme is to be recalled from the management board effective from Tuesday until the end of the investigation. The management board will continue with one member, Marika Priske.

The Office of the Prosecutor General launched criminal proceedings on Tuesday pursuant to the section of the Penal Code dealing with embezzlement to investigate the use of funds collected by Slava Ukraini for supporting Ukraine.

State Prosecutor Triinu Olev explained that as soon as the first indications of possible misappropriation of the funds emerged, the prosecutor's office and police started analyzing the information that reached the law enforcement agencies.

«We have been collecting information outside the criminal proceedings, in addition to that published in the media, and we've been in direct contact with our Ukrainian colleagues. Based on the information collected, launching criminal proceedings is warranted,» Olev said.

«The investigation was launched pursuant to the section on embezzlement, but this is a preliminary assessment that can still change in the course of the proceedings. No suspicions have been brought against anyone for the time being and the investigation will clarify whether or not there is reason to suspect anyone,» she added.

As Slava Ukraini has also been operating in the Ukrainian territory, cooperation with Ukrainian law enforcement agencies will have an important role in the prosecutor's office determining the circumstances. The criminal proceedings are being carried out by the Central Criminal Police and led by the Office of the Prosecutor General.

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