For sale on Internet - Ukraine's election votes
By Richard Balmforth
KIEV (Reuters) - For sale: my vote in Ukraine's election on Sunday. From 300 to 500 hryvnias ($37-$63). Can gather others who want to sell.
Several offers have appeared on the Internet from disenchanted citizens in the ex-Soviet republic who say they are ready to sell their votes in the January 17 election for president.
"I don't believe in our democracy and so I am selling my vote in the elections. Maybe there will be 10 other votes for sale. The only discussion on price will be upwards," said one Internet advertisement from Lviv in western Ukraine.
The State Security Service had no comment to make on the offers, but a central election commission official said buying votes was illegal and subject to criminal prosecution. It did not appear, however, to be an offence to offer votes for sale.
Another offer from the capital Kiev read: "I am completely indifferent to who wins. There are three votes for sale -- two in Kiev, one in Bila Tserkva. 500 hryvnia apiece."
Some have accompanying e-mail addresses. Other appear with a contact telephone number.
Research carried out independently by the democracy monitoring group, Democratic Initiative, showed that 2 percent of those surveyed in mid-December were ready to sell their vote at any price and 6 percent if the price was right.
Just over three quarters -- 76 percent -- said they would not sell their vote under any circumstances. Continued...