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Survey Shows Every Fifth Ukrainian Ready To Sell Vote

Ukrainian prison inmates wait to vote in the presidential election in January, eventually won by Viktor Yanukovych.
KYIV -- A fresh survey suggests that around one in five Ukrainians is willing to sell his or her vote in the upcoming local elections, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

The findings emerged from a survey of 2,000 people conducted earlier this month by two Ukrainian nongovernmental organizations, the Democratic Initiatives Fund and OPORA.

Less than one in 10 (8.5 percent) of those surveyed said they think the local elections to be held on October 31 will be fair.

The vast majority of respondents said they expect there to be violations in the elections, but they are divided over whether the irregularities will significantly alter the results of the vote.

Many said they are ready to take part in falsifications themselves -- more than one out of every five respondents said they would be willing to sell their vote to the highest bidder.

"A number of voters are ready to sell their vote for a certain sum," said OPORA civic network head Olha Ajvazovska. "Unfortunately, this category [of people] is large -- it is more than 21 percent. Thus, this number of voters is sufficient for a candidate, using bribing schemes, to create certain advantages for himself and even to actually win an election."

The majority of those who are ready to sell their vote said an acceptable price is some 500 hryvnyas ($60). The main reasons for selling their votes were given as difficult financial circumstances and an indifference to all candidates.

The average monthly salary in Ukraine is less than $300.

Despite the skepticism of the respondents about the elections, a majority said they are likely to vote in the upcoming elections: 47 percent said they will definitely go to the polls and 29 percent said they are "highly likely" to.

The most popular Ukrainian political forces are the ruling Party of Regions, the Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party headed by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, the Communist Party, and Strong Ukraine.