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.
Reached by telephone by Reuters, Vadim, a 25-year-old Kiev construction worker, said he had already received offers in response to his Internet posting.
“The politics of Ukraine don’t interest me at all. I am not interested in who will be president,” he said, adding: “I am not a patriot.”
Vadim said he could gather a total of about 10 votes for sale from among his family and friends and the going rate for each was 500 hryvnias. “I have had offers already and I am deciding,” he said.
He would not say whether the offers had come from political parties, their agents or individuals.
Sunday’s election for president, the fifth since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, takes place amid deep economic gloom in Ukraine where the global recession has hit jobs, family budgets and pockets.
“This is a reflection of disappointment and the increasingly cynical attitude of voters toward politics and politicians,” said political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko.
“There is no trust among Ukrainians in the overwhelming majority of candidates.”
Sunday’s vote is not expected to produce an outright winner.
Opinion polls suggest that pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko, who came to power after mass street protests against election fraud in 2004, will not go forward.
A second round run-off is expected between the two front-runners, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, on February 7.