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Austrian vice chancellor resigns over leaked video, prompting snap election

By
Sommer Brokaw
Heinz-Christian Strache resigned Saturday as vice chancellor of Austria after a corruption scandal surfaced on a leaked video. Photo courtesy Social Democratic Party Press and Communication/Flickr
Heinz-Christian Strache resigned Saturday as vice chancellor of Austria after a corruption scandal surfaced on a leaked video. Photo courtesy Social Democratic Party Press and Communication/Flickr

May 18 (UPI) -- Austria's Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache resigned Saturday over corruption allegations after a secret video was leaked, sparking a snap election.

The far-right minister discussed government contracts with a woman who said she was a Russian investor and niece of a Russian oligarch.

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Strache allegedly offered the woman government contracts in exchange for campaign support and suggested a potentially illegal donation system for the Freedom Party he leads in the video.

The video was posted Friday in German news outlets.

Strache said he would step down as the leader of the Freedom Party that is part of Austria's ruling coalition with Chancellor Sebastian Kurz's conservative People's Party after the leaked video surfaced.

Kurz accepted his resignation, Strache said. Furthermore, later on Saturday Kurz called for a snap election as a result.

Strache said that he met the woman in Ibiza, Spain. He was embarrassed by his actions in the video, which he blamed on being "drunk" and "macho-posturing" to an "attractive hostess."

"No donations have been made to the party," because of the meeting he said, adding that he has not done "anything against the law."

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The allegations were "a targeted political attack," Strache said, but he would still step down, and he owed an apology to those he "disappointed."

Strache said that transport minister Norbert Hofer will step up in his place.

The video was allegedly filmed on July 24, 2017, months before the election that brought him to power.

It's unknown who recorded the video, who set up the meeting and who filmed it.

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