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Austria minister Heinz-Christian Strache resigns amid video scandal

Austria’s Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache has resigned a day after secret video footage mired him in a corruption scandal.

The video appeared to show Mr Strache discussing government contracts with an alleged Russian investor in return for campaign support.

He also appeared to hint at a potentially illegal donation system for the far-right Freedom Party he leads. Mr Strache said that transport minister Norbert Hofer will replace him.

He said he was leaving to avoid further damage to the government and claimed he had been the “victim of a targeted political attack” which had used illegal means.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of the centre-right People’s Party is expected to give a statement on the matter soon.

The video, allegedly filmed on the Spanish island of Ibiza in 2017, was published on Friday in a joint report by Der Spiegel and the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung. It is unclear who set up the meeting and who filmed it.

The footage shows Mr Strache and Johann Gudenus – also a Freedom Party politician – talking to a woman who claimed to be the niece of a Russian oligarch. She told the pair that she was looking to invest in Austria.

Both politicians can be seen smoking and drinking while relaxing on sofas. The woman offers to buy a 50% stake in Austria’s Kronen-Zeitung newspaper and switch its editorial allegiance to the Freedom Party.

Mr Strache names several journalists who would have to be “pushed” from the newspaper. He also appears to suggest that she could be awarded public contracts. -BBC

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