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Desperate Times: Fleeing Ukrainians Put ID on Sale for a Pittance

© Sputnik / Valeriy Melnikov / Go to the photo bankUkrainian media have discovered a worrying new trend: Ukrainians leaving their country permanently to go live abroad are selling their identifying information, from internal passports, to tax identifiers and even birth certificates, with online classified sites becoming flooded with potential sellers.
Ukrainian media have discovered a worrying new trend: Ukrainians leaving their country permanently to go live abroad are selling their identifying information, from internal passports, to tax identifiers and even birth certificates, with online classified sites becoming flooded with potential sellers. - Sputnik International
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Ukrainian media have discovered a worrying new trend: Ukrainians leaving their country permanently to go live abroad are selling their identifying information, from internal passports, to tax identifiers and even birth certificates, with online classified sites becoming flooded with potential sellers.

A woman walks past a damaged school in the city of Lisichansk, Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine - Sputnik International
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Ukrainian news hub Vesti has discovered that dozens of ads have begun appearing on Ukrainian classified sites such as olx.ua, featuring ads like: "Leaving the country. Will sell my Ukrainian [internal] passport. The passport is clean. No loans against it. Checked against all databases. Will sell for cheap."

Like many post-Soviet countries, Ukraine has a system of internal passports, which are used as the main document for identification within the country. Ukrainians can use their internal passports to travel to Russia and Belarus; travel to other countries requires international passports.

Contacting the seller above while posing as a potential buyer, a journalist from Vesti discovered that the man was moving to Germany, and that he no longer felt the need to hang on to his internal passport. "I will sell the passport from $1,000 US; if you need the [tax] identifier that will be another $500. I don't care what you're buying it for. In any case I can always say that I lost it and decided not to report it to the police because I no longer need it," the man, identified only as Sergei, said.

Another man contacted by the Ukrainian news site was also willing to throw in his birth certificate and diploma. "$2,200 for everything. I don't need these things anymore, and I need the money," the man noted.

Ukrainian legal experts have warned that the passports will be used mainly for criminal purposes, noting that according to Ukraine's criminal code, forged and faked documents carry with them a sentence of up to three years behind bars.

Human rights activist Eduard Bagirov noted that the passports may come in handy for politicians and businessmen looking to escape the country. "Actually, the range of people who might be interested in such a thing is very large, from people who register [fake] one-day firms through which they make cash withdrawals, to those who sell stolen goods to pawnshops, to large-scale scammers, and even murderers." 

Ultimately, Bagirov warned that "if the buyer commits a crime with your passport, and he will, because otherwise he has no reason to buy it, you may be held liable as an accomplice to the crime." So far, such threats have not stopped dozens of desperate Ukrainian would-be immigrants from offering their documents for sale.

Protesters burn tires during a rally supporting a law on the restructuring of foreign currency loans in front of the Ukrainian Parliament in Kiev on May 21, 2015 - Sputnik International
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Over the past year-and-a-half, Ukrainians have seen a dramatic decline in their standards of living as a result of a deep political and economic crisis, which have reverberated across every sphere of life. Wages and pensions in the country have been frozen, while prices for basic goods, including food and utilities, have skyrocketed. Earlier this year, embattled Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk stated that the country's challenge for 2015 will be to "survive," with "absolutely everyone" to feel the pinch of the economic crisis.

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