Video scandal rocks Austrian governing coalition

FILE - In this Dec. 16, 2017 file photo, Heinz-Christian Strache, chairman of the right-wing Freedom Party, FPOE, speaks at a news conference in Vienna, Austria. Two German newspapers are reporting that the head of Austria's far-right Freedom Party offered government contracts in return for support for his party from a potential Russian donor shortly before the Austrian's 2017 parliamentary election. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak,file)
FILE - In this Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018 file photo, Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, from left, hold a joint press conference after one year government in Austria at the Hofburg palace in Vienna, Austria. Two German newspapers are reporting that the head of Austria's far-right Freedom Party offered government contracts in return for support for his party from a potential Russian donor shortly before the Austrian's 2017 parliamentary election. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
FILE - In this Feb. 12, 2018 file photo Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache speaks during a press conference after talks with Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic in Belgrade, Serbia. Two German newspapers are reporting that the head of Austria's far-right Freedom Party offered government contracts in return for support for his party from a potential Russian donor shortly before the Austrian's 2017 parliamentary election. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak,file)

FRANKFURT, Germany — Austria's vice chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache is expected to make a statement about his political future Saturday after two German newspapers published footage of him apparently offering lucrative government contracts to a potential Russian benefactor.

The dpa news agency reported that Strache was expected to address the issue at a news conference at noon local time (1000 GMT.)

The scandal has led to speculation about the future of the governing coalition between Strache's anti-immigration Freedom Party and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz's center-right People's Party. Neither Strache nor Kurz have commented publicly.

The daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung and the weekly Der Spiegel on Friday published extracts of covert video purportedly showing Strache offering government contracts to an unnamed Russian woman if she were to buy an Austrian newspaper and support his party.

The reports unleashed a storm of speculation in Austrian news media that Strache could be replaced in the cabinet by another Freedom Party representative — or even that Kurz could end the current coalition and head for new elections.

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