In what can only be described as totally strange but true, an underwear is among confiscated items up for auction in Ukraine, following bailiffs’ raids on debtors. Pants were seized in the central city of Kryvyi Rih and are advertised on a justice ministry website for online auctions, called Setam.
The starting price for one pair is 19.4 hryvnia (£0.50; $0.70). There have also been cases of the state auctioning off cows and sheep. The Covid-19 pandemic has raised the number of registered Ukrainian debtors above 2m. The number of debtors grew by 300,000 last year, according to official data. There was indignation on Ukrainian social media last year when two confiscated pet dogs were put up for sale. And an MP, Yevgeniy Brahar, became the butt of jokes for suggesting that a hard-up pensioner should sell her dog in order to pay her bills.
Justice Minister Denis Malyuska later suggested that auctioning debtors’ pet dogs made less sense than selling more valuable domesticated animals.
A report by the OECD economic think-tank in December says that, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Ukraine may face its worst recession in decades, leaving more than 9m of its 41m people in poverty. And according to UN research, since the beginning of the pandemic more than 40% of Ukrainian families have seen at least one family member lose their job. The official web-based system for auctioning debtors’ property was launched in 2015, and the justice ministry says some 14.1bn hryvnia (£364m; $506m) of property has been sold on it so far. The ministry also donates some property seized by the customs service to orphanages, hospitals and schools.