Union Offering Bounty for Stopping Election Fraud ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

Narva's Independent Union of Miners and Energy Workers is offering awards of up to 1,500 euros for catching people trying to buy or forge votes at the upcoming local elections.

The chairman of the union, Vladislav Ponjatovski, told ERR radio today that the awards will only be paid out if intent can be proven and the police open a criminal investigation.

“According to information we have, brigades have already formed, who have been handed 3,000 euros to buy votes. The price of one vote is between 10 and 15 euros,” Ponjatovski said.

“Between 20,000 and 22,000 people cast their votes each time and even if one, or ten or 20 votes have been bought, it will have no affect. I think that it is not such a major problem in Narva,” Ants Liimets, head of the city's electoral commission, said.

The Center Party's candidate for the top job in Narva, Mihhail Stalnuhhin, said he is critical of the scheme, saying that it will attract alcoholics and drug addicts, who would do anything for that 1,500 euros.

On Sunday, the party said that police should be present at polling stations during the elections, and that they are willing to pay for the wages of those police officers if the police do not have enough funds themselves.

Narva's police chief, Sergei Andrejev, said they will not man polling stations, but will focus energy on areas surrounding the stations, as according to them, that is where voters are influenced most.

A televised debate last week between candidates running for local office in the city focused on corruption, with opposition parties accusing the Center Party of politicizing municipal jobs.

The Center Party won 26 seats out of 31 at the last local election in Narva, in 2009, and is expected to retain its majority at the current elections, in less than two weeks.