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Supreme Rada submits draft bill on decentralization of Ukraine to Constitutional Court

Today, on July 16, the Supreme Rada submitted a bill of decentralization-related amendments to the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, after 288 MPs supported it.

Immediately after the voting, the parliamentarians began brawling. Parliamentary Vice Speaker Andriy Parubiy asked the MPs to leave the session hall. “You can squabble after the plenary meeting of the Supreme Rada. You are here to work,” the vice speaker said addressing the brawling parliamentarians.

Before that, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko introduced the bill of amendments and asked the deputies to support it. Now, after the first voting in the parliament, the amendments to the Constitution are to be approved by the Constitutional Court. Afterwards, at the next meeting of the Supreme Rada, the amendments will be put for final voting. According to the bill, the administrative and territorial division of the country will undergo the following changes:

• The territory of Ukraine will be divided into communities. The communities will become primary units in the administrative and territorial system of Ukraine, and a big share of powers will be delegated to them. 

• The powers in the local self-government system and the ones of their executive bodies of various levels will be distributed on the basis of the subsidiarity principle. The local self-government bodies are granted the right to decide over any issues within their competence and not under jurisdiction of any other body. 

• The local state administrations are withdrawn from the constitutional regulation and the institution of the heads of the local state administrations is abolished.

• Executive bodies of the community local self-government will be established. They will be accountable to the community council.

• The material and financial capability of the local self-government will be formalized. In particular, these are lands, movable and immovable property, natural resources, and other facilities in public property of the territorial community, as well as local taxes and fees, part of the public taxes and other incomes of the local budgets.

• An institution of prefects will be introduced to supervise the observation of the Constitution and laws of Ukraine by the local self-government. The bill stipulates that a prefect is appointed and dismissed by Ukraine’s president at the request of the Cabinet.  A prefect can suspend the enactments of the local self-government if they are considered as unconstitutional or illegal and appeal to the court over the issue. (“They have no right to interfere into operative government or manage the financial and other resources. They will be carrying out supervisory functions only,” said President Poroshenko when presenting the decentralization reform.)

• The central administration will retain the right to dismiss local self-government. For instance, if a community head, community council, regional, territorial council adopts an enactment that runs contrary to the Constitution of Ukraine, constitutes threat to the state sovereignty , territorial integrity or national security, the president of Ukraine is to suspend the given enactment and appeal to the Constitutional Court, suspend the powers of the community head, the staff of the community, regional, territorial council and appoint an authorized state official on a temporary basis.  If the Constitutional Court recognizes the given enactment as unconstitutional, the Supreme Rada of Ukraine at the request of the president terminates the powers of the community head, the community, territorial, or regional council and appoints snap elections in line with the law.

• The bill includes a set of measures on the implementation of the Minsk Agreements of Feb 12 2015.  The bill stipulates that the specifics of the local self-government in certain regions of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions are determined by a special law.  That is, it is suggested to include the specifics of the local self-government on the part of the territory of Donbass, but the specific status will be determined by another law.

Earlier, EADaily quoted Poroshenko as saying in the Supreme Rada that the draft amendments do not provide for federalization or special status of Donbass.  “There is not a scintilla of federalization. Ukraine has always been and will remain a unitary country. The bill does not imply any special status for Donbass. I am sure that the suggested bill does not run contrary to the Minsk Agreements,”  he said.

Representatives of the self-proclaimed republics Denis Pushilin and Vladislav Deynego said the amendments submitted to Rada run contrary to the Minsk Agreements. “I would advise Petro Poroshenko to recall his amendments and submit them to OSCE, Russia and to us for consideration. I recommend the deputies not to vote today, as it will be a waste of time,” Pushilin said. Deynego, in turn, said Kiev again imitates implementation of the Minsk Agreements.

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