How very Soviet

There’s electoral bribery and then there’s electoral bribery:

There were no voter lists, no recognised observers, and only one real candidate. But for voters who turned out for Sunday’s rebel-organised elections in eastern Ukraine, there were plenty of cut-price root vegetables.

At polls in the self-declared “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk, stalls outside were selling beetroots, potatoes, onions and carrots for barely a few pence per sack.

Who was subsidising the election-cum-farmers’ market was not quite clear. But it was widely suspected to be an attempt by the region’s new leaders to maximise voter turnout – and give the polls a much-needed stamp of legitimacy.

How shittily run does a place have to be to make cheap beetroot an incentive to get out and vote? This is proof of almost Soviet levels of economic incompetence.

11 thoughts on “How very Soviet”

  1. Disagree, as even an economically competent government would have been badly affected by the conflict. A better lesson might be, if you want a decent economy, don’t fight a devastating civil war.

  2. Soviet? Given that VladimirPutin was the KGB resident in Dresden, to enact a bit of nostalgia is surely admissible.

    The main difference between now and then is that he used to keep his shirt on more.

  3. I’m with MBE on this one. It’s not really fair to blame people for being under siege.

    With the government in Kiev ceasing to pay pensions and public-sector wages in separatist areas four months ago, and the rebel authorities yet to provide a replacement social safety net, many are falling into poverty.

    Fair enough, and quite tragic.

  4. S2

    I’m not sure whether they aren’t more under occupation than under siege. It’s a nice difference, I know, but the occupying power has responsibilities to the local population.

  5. “How shittily run does a place have to be to make cheap beetroot an incentive to get out and vote? ”

    In the U.S., we use Obamaphones.

  6. Voting is an activity for vegetables so its appropriate in a way.

    No I’m just kidding–your vote is of extreme value and the only way forward to legitimate change in a democratic society.

  7. bloke (not) in spain

    Well you’re looking at your future, guys. Eastern Ukraine’s just slightly ahead of the curve.

  8. B(n)iS

    That’s depressing. I thought Putin had his eye on the Elbe but you have him reaching the Atlantic.

    They used to say that the Soviet Union’s idea of a secure border was one which had the Soviets on both sides of it.

  9. Bison,

    > I’m not sure whether they aren’t more under occupation than under siege.

    Yes, thank you. I get up at five on Mondays for a four-hour commute, and may not always pick the right word. I knew “siege” sounded wrong. Hey, at least I managed to spell it.

  10. “In the U.S., we use Obamaphones.”

    And food stamps. So in places like Detroit and D.C., they’re voting for their root veggies as well as their cell phones.

    When, as a nation, you can’t look down your nose at the Ukrainians, you are in deep shit.

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