The scandal surrounding the Ukrainian version of BBC’s popular 2002 “Greatest Britons” popular history TV project is being portrayed by Ukrainian media as a battle between supporters of 10th century Kyivan-Rus ruler Yaroslav Mudry and 20th century Ukrainian nationalist leader Stepan Bandera, who finished first and third by the time more than two million votes were counted on May 16.
However the supporters who should be most upset are those of football legend Valery Lobanovsky and of 18th century wandering philosopher Hryhori Skovoroda.
An investigation into the daily vote totals from the project’s last week shows that over 5,500 (5, 577) votes of support for the two “greats” vanished from the final total.
Meanwhile, a half million votes of support for Yaroslav Mudry were generated in the project’s final days causing media watchdogs to cry foul over the use of technology to dump votes in favor of one candidate over another for political purposes.
Stuffing Great Ukrainians
|Final ranking||Top Ten "Great Ukrainians"||Interim Results 13.05||Final Results 16.05||Difference|
Source: Vakhtang Kipiani, “Yak vkraly “Velykoho Ukrayinstya’” (How the “Great Ukrainian” was stolen), Ukrayinska Pravda website (Ukrainian lang.), May 20, 2008 Link to original: http://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2008/5/20/76074.htm
SMS vote stuffing
Both Mudry and Bandera supporters organized multiple voting by fan clubs, as did the Communists (for Lenin as a “Great Ukrainian) and student clubs.
But Party of Regions’ ideologue Dmytro Tabachnyk managed to organize 585,021 votes of support for Yaroslav Mudry in the last three days of the “Great Ukrainians” project.
Mudry won with 648,443 votes. The shows presenters claimed that “Great Ukrainians” broke world records for participation with 1.6 million unique voters, who sent, phoned and texted over 2 million votes for their historical heroes.
At the after show party Tabachnyk reportedly boasted that he wanted to “screw Bandera” and told the Segodnya newspaper: “all the nationalists needed for victory was six hundred generous banderites” implying that at Hr 1 per vote, Bandera was Hr 600,000 or $120,000 short of victory. (Photo of newspaper cover above).
According to the show's chief editor Vakhtang Kipiani, 348,017 votes were cast for Mudry between May 15 and 16 and 64% of votes for the Rus rulers came in the last three days of the project (see table).
Veteran journalist Kipiani exposed the fraud. In addition to being the chief editor of the “Great Ukrainians” project he also took part as Bandera’s celebrity endorsement and author of the 10-minute movie about the man killed by Moscow by 1959.
According to telephone company records Kipiani obtained, 15,454 SMS were sent from a single phone number “in packets” over the course of 18 hours the night before the final program aired.
“After the scandalous final I obtained a certain portion of insider information and can confirm: the announced results, allegedly based on 1,621,049 viewer votes, are a mass-scale manipulation of public opinion,” Kipiani wrote.
Tabachnyk’s past screwings
Tabachnyk has been involved in vote falsification in the past, most notably in the publication of falsified electoral results of the second round of the 2004 presidential elections (also electronically-manipulated by “transit servers”) in the parliamentary Holos Ukrayiny newspaper.
On a personal note: In this reporter’s opinion the top three should have been Taras, Ivan and Lesia. It was honor enough to see Bandera make the top ten: a Kyiv International Institute of Sociology poll from December 2007 showed Bandera ranking 14 of the top 20, among 60% of respondents who said they could “name a great Ukrainian.” In that poll, Taras Shevchenko was the hands-down country-wide winner from Lviv to Luhansk.