Ukrainians sell COVID-19 vaccination bonuses online

21 December 2021, 11:07 AM

Ukrainians are cashing in – illegally – on a government program to reward those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 while simultaneously supporting the economy.

 Under the program, approved by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and launched on Dec. 19, every fully vaccinated Ukrainian can apply for a UAH 1,000 ($37) reward from the government.

But there’s a catch to the cash.

The funds are credited to special virtual cards, which can only be used to purchase from a certain list of products and services, such as books, train tickets, movie tickets, so on – thus supporting business.

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According to the President’s Office and the government, creative industries have been most affected by the quarantine policies and lockdowns introduced to stem the coronavirus pandemic.

A separate list of services is being worked out for people aged 60 and over. They will be able to spend their vaccination reward on medicines and other social needs starting from January 2022.

The funds must be spent within four months from the date they are credited to a virtual bank account.

However, “yePidtrymka” (Ukrainian for “There’s support”) program cards have already begun to appear on Ukrainian trading websites, seemingly for sale.

One example of a “yePidtrymka” sales listing was posted by former lawmaker Tetiana Ostrikova on Facebook on Dec. 21, which offers to sell the nominally UAH 1,000 UAH card for UAH 600 in cash.

The OLX online marketplace, a popular trading site in the country, has attempted to block and remove dozens “yePidtrymka” listings, the OLX press service told the online media outlet on Dec. 21.

“We set up 24 new keyword filters and removed 78 ads,” the company said.

These listings first began appearing on the marketplace on Dec. 12, though OLX has stressed that selling the “yePidtrymka” card is illegal and violates platform policy.

Ukrainians have already spent UAH 134 million under the reward program, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Dec. 21.

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