Voter Bribery Schemes Start to Plague Ukraine’s Presidential Elections

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


On February 21st the Security Service of Ukraine carried out more than 50 searches in various regions in connection with the creation of so-called “voting pyramids” for the falsification of the results of presidential elections in Ukraine.

As was specified in the statement published on the official website of the Prosecutor-General’s Office, the employee of the Rapid Response Team and the SBU carried out more than 50 searches on the territory of Ukraine authorised by courts within the framework of criminal proceedings under part 1 of article 255 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine – creation of a criminal organisation.

The Prosecutor-General’s Office emphasised that no search was carried out in any of the party offices of any of the political forces.

At the same time, representatives of the candidate for the presidential post Yuliya Tymoshenko stated that in the same day in the Zaporozhye region the staff of the SBU, Prosecutor’s Office, and Rapid Response Team carried out searches at the homes of the volunteers of their HQ.

According to the Prosecutor-General’s Office, in 2018 on the territory of Ukraine a criminal organisation was created for the purpose of massively bribing voters and falsifying the results of presidential elections in Ukraine in 2019. In regions a “pyramid” network was created, and its financing was carried out in violation of the requirements of Article 43 of the Law of Ukraine “On Ukrainian presidential elections”.

After the searches had been carried out the vice-chairman of the SBU Viktor Kononenko held a briefing, during which he specified that “for a monthly reward people from the local population who were hired by members of the group had to carry out the corresponding processing and ensure a certain pre-determined number of votes in favour of the specific candidate”.

Initially the SBU did not give the name of the head of the created organisation, only declaring that it is one of the People’s Deputies of Ukraine. But later the department gave some of the names of persons coordinating the activity of the organisation. Also it later became known that law enforcement bodies suspect a People’s Deputy from “Batkivshchina” party of creating a“voter pyramid” scheme. The SBU also emphasised that some of the organisers of this “pyramid” are deeply involved in Russian political circles and have been organising electoral campaigns in the Russian Federation for a long time.

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According to the statement of the SBU, during the specified searches cash in foreign and national currencies, and also draft copies proving the carrying out of criminal activity, were confiscated.

According to the data of sociological polls, the candidate Yuliya Tymoshenko is above the incumbent president Petro Poroshenko in terms of approval rating.

In addition, on the day that the searches were carried out, representatives of the political force of this candidate were carrying out several journalistic investigations into president Petro Poroshenko’s plans to bribe voters and influence the work of district election commissions. In particular, journalists found out that a number of representatives to district election commissions from little-known presidential candidates with a low approval rating were previously agreed on and sent to the commissions from the HQ of the incumbent president. Also, journalists assume that polls and the collection of the personal information of citizens are carried out by Poroshenko’s propagandists for the purpose of giving targeted social help to those who support the incumbent president. Such a practice can be regarded as voter bribery.

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