Friday, March 18, 2016 - 11:29
Ukraine referendum campaign funding questioned
Many questions surround subsidies paid out for campaigns to encourage a public debate on the referendum on the association agreement with the Ukraine, scheduled for 6 April. Some of the subsidy receivers can't show what they did with the money, if they can be reached at all. And two political parties managed to get their hands on more than one subsidy, the Volkskrant reports. The referendum committee, headed by Medy van der Laan (D66), distributed the subsidies over past weeks. A total of 2 million euros was available - 400 thousand euros for individuals and the rest for legal entities. The money was to be split over for, against and neutral campaigns. This was done, but questions now surround some of the organizations or persons who received subsidies. For example, the foundation Forum voor Maatschappelijk Debat Nederland received 43 thousand euros to professionally set up a neutral forum to discuss the referendum. Only three weeks until the referendum and the website only has five members and the last response was over a month ago. The owner of the forum is completely unreachable. Another company, Val di Cecina, also received 42 thousand euros. The company was to advertise on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but so far nothing has come of it. Political party PvdD managed to get three subsidies, totaling 150 thousand euros, by applying through he party office, the scientific office and the youth party. PvdD senator and chairman of the science office Nico Koffeman told the Volkskrant that there is nothing wrong with that. "We are very against the agreement, and we try to use all possible means to stop it", he said, adding that they sent in three application to increase their chances of getting a subsidy. "We could just as easily be rejected three times and received absolutely nothing. It's a lottery." The PvdA did the same, but was only approved twice, receiving a total of 78 thousand euros. This was possible because the applications were not substantively checked. As long as the application was technically correct, it was eligible for a subsidy.