KIEV, February 21. /TASS/. The election team of incumbent Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko plans to rig the upcoming presidential election on a large scale, Ukraine’s Strana news outlet said following a journalistic investigation.
After talking to members of the Poroshenko election team and regional officials, reporters came to the conclusion that for the first time in Ukraine’s history, an entire election-rigging scheme dubbed Setka (or Network) will be implemented, which will reach out to the country’s smallest settlements. "Members of the Poroshenko election team expect that the scheme will allow the incumbent president to receive additional seven to ten percent of the vote, provided that voter turnout will reach 60%. This will make it possible for Poroshenko to reach the runoff election. A thing to note is that the Setka scheme will be financed by the budget, that is, by taxpayers," Strana wrote.
According to the news outlet, the campaign takes place in several stages. At the first stage, Poroshenko’s campaigners are conducting large-scale opinion polls to detect the president’s potential supporters. At the second state, the election team will seek to maintain contacts with these groups of people to make sure they continue to support their candidate.
The third stage is crucial for this is when Setka members will receive financial support. To that end, regional and local authorities will approve special social aid programs, setting out easy criteria for getting it. According to the news outlet, the amount of money Setka members will receive ranges from 50 mln to 90 mln hryvnias ($1,850-3,300) depending on the region.
The Ukrainian presidential election is scheduled to take place on March 31. The country’s Central Election Commission registered a total of 44 candidates, which is a record number.
According to recent polls, comedian Vladimir Zelensky leads the race as 17.5% of voters are ready to cast ballots in his favor. Poroshenko comes second with 13.1%, while leader of the Batkivshchina (or Fatherland) party Yulia Timoshenko is third (11.5%).