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Scandals, takeover attempt and thousands of amendments: how presidents has been changing the Constitution of Ukraine for 25 years

How the Constitution of Ukraine has changed over 25 years: from 1996 to 2021. Photo: UNIAN

How the Constitution of Ukraine has changed over 25 years: from 1996 to 2021. Photo: UNIAN

The Verkhovna Rada adopted the Constitution of Ukraine on June 28, 1996, five years after declaring independence. In 2021, a celebration will be held in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Constitution. The Cabinet has already approved the corresponding decision.

The Page has been finding out how the Constitution changed over the years of its existence.

Historical predecessors of the Constitution of Ukraine were

  • The Constitution of Pylyp Orlyk, 1710.

Agreement of the hetman of the Zaporizhian Host Pylyp Orlik with the lieutenant colonels and the treasury. The document determined the rights and obligations of the troops. In 2021, it will be brought to Ukraine.

  • Constitution of the Ukrainian People's Republic, 1918.

The Statute on the state structure, rights and liberties of the UPR was the main law adopted on the last day of the Central Rada's existence. The Constitution emphasized that power "comes from the people."

  • Constitution of the Ukrainian State, 1918.

This is a set of documents that determined the legal basis for the functioning of the Ukrainian State. Pavlo Skoropadskyi proclaimed himself the hetman of all Ukraine in it and announced the dissolution of the UPR.

Constitution of Ukraine in 1996

The Parliament took a long time to refine the Constitution: as of 1996, the document had 6,000 amendments. The Rada considered the adoption of the Constitution during 24 hours, and on the morning of June 28, the document was approved by 315 votes "in favor".

The document stated that Ukraine is a sovereign, democratic and legal state. The Ukrainian people are the main source of power.

Constitution of Ukraine in 2000

The first attempt to amend the Constitution was initiated by Leonid Kuchma. On January 15, 2000, he signed a Decree on holding a referendum, and already on April 16, voting took place. Among the questions that were considered, the imposing of a bicameral parliament, the president's right to dissolve parliament (if it does not form a permanent acting majority within a month, or within three months does not adopt the budget), the deprivation of parliamentary immunity, and the reduction of the number of deputies from 450 to 300 were discussed. The questions that were introduced for referendum were supported, however no amendments were made to the Constitution.

Constitution of Ukraine in 2004

The next attempt to amend the Constitution was also initiated by Kuchma. On December 8, 2004, the Rada voted in favor of amendments that limited the powers of the President and expanded the powers of Parliament. Thus, Ukraine became a parliamentary-presidential country.

These changes took place between the second and third rounds of presidential elections. At that time the main candidates for the post of the head of the country were Viktor Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovych.

Constitution of Ukraine in 2007

On December 27, 2007, by Decree of President Viktor Yushchenko, the National Constitutional Council was established. It had to prepare a concept for the Constitution renewal. In August 2008, Yushchenko signed a Decree on the discussion of constitutional reform by the people. However, no amendments followed.

Constitution of Ukraine in 2010

On September 30, 2010, during the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych, the Party of Regions initiated a review of the 2004 constitutional reform. As a result, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine (CCU) canceled the 2004 Constitution, and returned the 1996 Constitution. The CCU concluded that prior to voting for the 2004 Constitution, amendments had been made to the draft law that had not been examined by the Constitutional Court. Thus, the CCU returned the country to a presidential-parliamentary system of government, and returned part of the powers to the President.

Only in 2021, the Shevchenkivskyi District Court of Kyiv gave permission to carry out a special pre-trial investigation against the former President of Ukraine in criminal proceedings on the fact of the seizure of state power. The proceedings are investigating the Yanukovych’s actions in September-October 2010 that were aimed at increasing powers.

Constitution of Ukraine in 2014

On February 21, 2014, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine voted to reinstate the 2004 Constitution. At that time it was ruled that the Constitutional Court decision of 2010 was made without a parliamentary vote and was contrary to the provisions of the Constitution.

Constitution of Ukraine in 2015

On July 2, 2015, Petro Poroshenko submitted to the parliament a bill on amendments to the Constitution in terms of decentralization. The draft law was adopted in the first reading.

Constitution of Ukraine in 2016-2019

In July 2016, the Rada adopted the Law "On the Judicial System and the Status of Judges". Other laws were also passed as part of the judicial reform.

In 2018, Poroshenko submitted draft amendments to the Constitution that provided for the consolidation of the country's European and Euro-Atlantic agenda. In February 2019, the Rada accepted it. The Constitution enshrined the provision of "the European identity of the Ukrainian people and the irreversibility of the European and Euro-Atlantic agenda of Ukraine", and the President became the guarantor of this agenda implementation.

Constitution of Ukraine in 2019-2021

After President Volodymyr Zelenskyy came to power, the Verkhovna Rada adopted a bill to abolish the immunity of people's deputies.

During a meeting of the Chamber of Local Authorities of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities in Khmelnytskyi, Zelensky announced the process of amending the Constitution. It is about the administrative-territorial structure, amendments to the legislation on local self-government, and the Budget Code.

On June 12, 2021, Zelenskyy signed Decree No. 231/2021 "on the Strategy for the Development of the Justice System and Constitutional Judiciary for 2021—2023". The strategy defines the basic principles and areas for the justice system development, taking into account the best international practices. The document outlines the priorities for improving legislation on the judicial system, the status of judges, court proceedings, and other justice institutions, as well as imposing urgent measures to improve the activities of legal institutions.

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