Rent-A-Crowd Entrepreneurs

Since rallies and protests look better on TV if there are thousands of people in attendance, a new breed of broker has emerged in Ukraine. Crowd brokers find and pay people to show up at demonstrations and political rallies. They’re big business in the former Soviet republic, as the Wall Street Journal reports:

Want to ensure a bigger draw for your lackluster candidate? In Ukraine, just contact Vladimir Boyko and he’ll rent you a crowd.

Mr. Boyko says his company, Easy Work, has assembled a database of several thousand students and can mobilize them on a day’s notice to turn up at demonstrations anywhere in Kiev, stand for hours at a time, and cheer or jeer on cue.

“We’ll do business with any political party. Ideology doesn’t matter to us,” says the 21-year-old Web-design major at Kiev Polytechnic Institute. “It matters even less to most students,” he adds, grinning. “They have become tired of politicians. They will rally only for money.”

Easy Work’s emergence last summer, described by Mr. Boyko and co-owner Matvey Dyadkov, casts light on a secretive industry of crowd brokers in this former Soviet republic. Those apolitical operatives take cash from candidates’ parties and hire students, pensioners and others at roughly $4 an hour to bulk up the candidates’ rallies.

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