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Ukrainian Parliament

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Ukrainian Parliament

This article is about the Ukrainian parliament. For the Crimean regional legislature, see Verkhovna Rada of Crimea.

Coordinates: 50°26′50.3″N 30°32′12.6″E / 50.447306°N 30.536833°E / 50.447306; 30.536833

Verkhovna Rada
Верховна Рада України
7th Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada
Type
Type Unicameral
Leadership
Chairman Volodymyr Rybak[1], Party of Regions[1]
Since December 13, 2012[1]
First Deputy Chairman Ihor Kalyetnik[2], Communist Party of Ukraine[2]
Since December 13, 2012[2]
Structure
Seats 450
Political groups

[3]
     Government (254)


Opposition Parties

Elections
Last election 28 October 2012
Meeting place
Verkhovna Rada Building, Kiev, Ukraine
Website
http://portal.rada.gov.ua/
Footnotes
The current parliament has 443 members (in seven single-mandate constituencies repeat elections will be held on 15 December 2013)[4][5][6]

The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (Ukrainian: Верховна Рада України; literally Supreme Council of Ukraine), often simply Verkhovna Rada or just Rada,[7] is Ukraine's parliament. The Verkhovna Rada is a unicameral parliament composed of 450 deputies, which is presided over by a chairman (speaker). It meets in the Verkhovna Rada building in Ukraine's capital Kiev.

The Verkhovna Rada was transformed from the Verkhovna Rada of the Ukrainian SSR that was first established in 1938 as the quazi-independent republic parliament of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic after the reorganization of Central Executive Committee of Ukrainian SSR. Since 1938, 17 convocations ("sessions") of the Verkhovna Rada were held.

The Ukrainian SSR Verkhovna Rada of the 14th convocation (elected in 1990) declared independence of Ukraine, introduced dramatic reforms to all aspects of life, and officially changed the numbering of sessions, proclaiming itself the "Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine" of the third convocation. The current convocation of the parliament is the seventh one.

The Verkhovna Rada of the fourth convocation (elected in 1994) adopted the current Constitution of Ukraine, significantly redistributing some of its powers to the President of Ukraine. The next, 5th convocation Rada, amended the Constitution in 2004, bringing a period of parliamentary-presidential republic (marked by political rivalry between Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko) before the amendment was canceled by the 2010 decision of the Constitutional Court.

In the Verkhovna Rada elections, a mixed voting system is used (50% under party lists and 50% under simple-majority constituencies)[8] with a 5% election threshold.[9] The method of 50/50 mixed elections was used in the 2002 and 2012 elections; however, in 2007, the elections were held under a proportional system only.[10] The last election took place on 28 October 2012.[11]

Name

The name Rada (Ukrainian: Рада) means "council". It originated in medieval Rus', and in the 10th century represented a boyar council.[12] It was also used by Dnieper Cossacks in the 17th and 18th centuries for the meetings where major decisions were made and new councils were elected by popular vote.[13]

This name was later used by the Ukrainian Revolutionary government between March 17, 1917 and April 29, 1918 (Central Rada).[14]

Verkhovna, is the feminine form of the adjective "верховний" meaning supreme. It is derived from the Ukrainian word "верх" meaning "top".

Other name used less often is the Parliament of Ukraine (Ukrainian: Парламент України, Парламент України).

History

Soviet period (1938–1990)

The Rada (it was named Supreme Soviet in the Ukrainian SSR[15]) replaced the All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets as the supreme body of state power according to the Constitution of Ukrainian SSR of 1937. The All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets had already been renamed to Supreme Soviet in 1927.[16] The Congress of Soviets was initiated by the Central Executive Committee. The last chairman of the committee was Hryhoriy Petrovsky.

The first elections to the Verkhovna Rada of the Ukrainian SSR took place on June 26, 1938. The first session of the parliament took place in Kiev on July 25 through 28, 1938. The first Chairman of the Rada was elected Mykhailo Burmystenko who later perished during World War II. There also was created a presidium of the Rada that was headed by Leonid Korniyets (July 27, 1938).

During the war the presidium was evacuated to the city of Saratov. On June 29, 1943 the presidium issued the order to postpone the elections to the new convocation for a year while extending the obligations of the first elected convocation. On January 8, 1944 the Cabinet Ministers of Ukrainian SSR in agreement with the Communist Party decided to relocate the presidium of Verkhovna Rada from Kharkiv back to Kiev. The new elections were scheduled on February 9, 1947.

Post-Soviet period

After Ukrainian independence the parliament was named from Supreme Soviet to its current name.[17]

The first real election to select deputies to the Verkhovna Rada was held March 1990.[18] Although the Communist Party still remained in control, a so-called "Democratic Bloc" was formed by numerous parties, including People's Movement of Ukraine (Rukh), Helsinki Watch Committee of Ukraine, Party of Greens of Ukraine, and many others.[18]

The Verkhovna Rada of Ukrainian SSR of the twelfth convocation proclaimed the state sovereignty of Ukraine on July 16, 1990, and declared Ukraine's independence and the creation of the Ukrainian State on August 24, 1991, at approximately 6 p.m. local time.[19] At the time, the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada was Leonid Kravchuk. The Act of Ukrainian Independence was overwhelmingly supported in a national referendum held on December 1, 1991. On September 12, 1991 the parliament adopted the law "On Legal Succession of Ukraine".[20]

The Constitution of Ukraine[21] was adopted by the Verkhovna Rada of the thirteenth convocation on June 28, 1996, at approximately 9 a.m. local time. The parliament's fourteenth convocation officially changed the numbering of the convocations proclaiming itself the Verkhovna Rada of the third convocation. After the Orange Revolution, a set of amendments were adopted to the constitution on December 8, 2004,[22] by the Verkhovna Rada of the fourth (fifteenth) convocation. On October 1, 2010 the Constitutional Court of Ukraine overturned the 2004 Constitutional Amendments, considering them unconstitutional.[23][24]


In January 2009 the Verkhovna Rada deputies trimmed their financing by 118 million hryvnias, compared with the year 2008 (amid statements of lawmakers about the necessity triming the expendure of government to fight the current economic crises of Ukraine). At first the parliament trimmed on details but later, under the pressure of government, lawmakers also trimmed their salaries. However mid-June Ukrainian newspaper DELO reviled that during a voting on the law on changes in the state budget-2009 (which proposed to finance providing those ill with diabetes with insulin at the expense of the increased excise duty on beer) Verkhovna Rada deputies introduced an amendment into the law and increased the Verkhovna Rada’s budget by 97 million hryvnias this way[25] (as made public by Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc faction member Oleh Liashko).[26][27] President Viktor Yuschenko vetoed the law on June 18, 2009. The president stated that the 100 million hryvnias from the excise should be given to the health care sector instead of the parliament's own expenditures.[26]

The Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc faction intended to initiate the abolishment of parliamentary immunity in September 2009 without result.[28]

Fights and incidents

Brawls are not unusual in the Ukrainian parliament.[29][30] On several occasions work in parliament is blocked by sit-ins by various parties (usually for a couple of days; but in 2008 from 18 January till 6 March[31] and in February 2013 for 17 days[32]).[30][33] In 2000 and on 4 April 2013 the parliament split into two and held two sessions on two different premises.[34]

A microphone throwing championship among MPs, organized by the Kyiv independent media trade union, was held outside the building of the Verkhovna Rada on Friday, September 11, 2009 in response to an incident on September 1, 2009 when an Communist MP snatched a microphone from a STB reporter and threw it downstairs. Several MPs participated.[35]

On May 13, 2010 Lytvyn asked lawmakers to work in the session hall and not to read newspapers there.[36]

A noticeable incident was the disorder of April 27, 2010, after the parliament ratified the treaty that extended Russia’s Black Sea Fleet lease in the Crimean port of Sevastopol until 2042, when parliament speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn had to be shielded by umbrellas as he was pelted with eggs, while smoke bombs exploded and politicians brawled.[37][38] Another major incident occurred on December 16, 2010 when several Rada members were admitted to the hospital after Party of Regions politicians stormed the parliament podium, which was occupied by the Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko faction.[30][39][40]

On December 12, 2012, an all-out scuffle broke out in Parliament, as Batkivshchyna party members attempted to prevent the swearing in of two members who had left the party.[41] (This was the Parliament's first session following the October 2012 election.)[41] The same day members of the All-Ukrainian Union "Svoboda" removed the fence around the Verkhovna Rada[42] that was installed early October 2012.[43][44] The speaker of the parliament Volodymyr Rybak promised to review the incident of the fence removal.[45] Interesting is the fact that the fence is not accounted as a property of parliament nor the city of Kiev. Rybak noted that the matter might require a review within a special designated committee.

Since the (last) parliamentary election of 28 October 2012 parliamentary work has virtually paralyzed the first months of 2013 because of "opposition" (UDAR, Fatherland, Svoboda, others) blocked the podium (tribune) and presidium seats on various days.[46]

Location

Verkhovna Rada building

The Verkhovna Rada meets in a neo-classical building on Kiev's vulytsia Mykhaila Hrushevskoho (Hrushevsky Street) and Ploshcha Konstytutsii (Constitution Square). The building adjoins a picturesque park and the 18th century Mariyinsky Palace, designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli, which serves as the official residence of the President of Ukraine.

After the transfer of the capital of the Ukrainian SSR from Kharkiv to Kiev in 1934, a whole set of government buildings was planned for the city.[47] In 1936, a contest for the construction of the new parliament building was won by architect Volodymyr Zabolotny.

Construction for the original building was done from 1936-38. Having been destroyed in the Second World War, the building was reconstructed in its original style in 1945-1947, with the glass dome being rebuilt one metre higher than the original one.[47]

Other locations

  • Palace Ukraina (the 1999 presidential oath of Leonid Kuchma)
  • Ukrainian House (January 21, 2000)
  • Building of budget committee (6-8 vulytsia Bankova on April 4, 2013)

Mission and authority

Main article: Legislation of Ukraine

The Verkhovna Rada is the sole body of legislative power in Ukraine. The parliament determines the principles of domestic and foreign policy, introduces amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine, adopts laws, approves the state budget, designates elections of the President of Ukraine, impeaches the president, declares war and peace, appoints the Prime Minister of Ukraine, appoints or approves appointment of certain officials, appoints one-third of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, elects judges for permanent terms, ratifies and denounces international treaties, and exercises certain control functions.[48]

All procedural regulations are declared in the Law of Ukraine on Regulations of the Supreme Council of Ukraine.[49] The latest version of the document was readopted on December 16, 2012, in which on the initiative of the President of Ukraine were made amendments concerning registration and voting of parliamentarians.[50] The 2012 became a year of numerous changes in regards to the document, among which were changes to election of a chairman and others. Bills are usually considered following the procedure of three readings; the President of Ukraine must sign a law before it can be officially promulgated.[51]

Voting incidents

Voting for other deputies is prohibited by law.[52] Despite this deputies have stated they could not/did take part in votes although their votes were registered in parliament[52][53] and the phenomenon did became notorious in Ukraine (sometimes referred too as "piano voting").[54] In April 2011 a vote of a deputy was registered although the man had died four days before the voting.[55][56] A bill on introducing voting of lawmakers with help of a touch-sensitive key was not passed in mid-March 2011.[57] Since 22 February 2013 procedural measures have been implemented to prevent deputies voting for absent deputies.[58] Following up on measures taken in December 2012.[59]

Composition

The Verkhovna Rada is a unicameral legislature with 450 national deputies (Ukrainian: народний депутат) elected on the basis of equal and direct universal suffrage through a secret ballot.

Presidium

Main article: Presidium of the Verkhovna Rada

The presidium of Verkhovna Rada was elected at the very first sessions of each convocation. Originally it consisted of a chairman, couple of the chairman's deputies, a secretary, and 19 other members. Later composition of the presidium changed. The presidium was regulated by the Statute 106 of the Constitution of Ukraine (1978). Since independence such institution was discontinued, but the term is used for the leadership of parliament that includes chairman and his (hers) deputies and may include faction leaders.

Parliamentary factions, groups, and parties

Only 15 or more deputies can form a parliamentary faction, a lawmaker can join only one faction (the chairman and his two assistants cannot head factions of deputies).[24][60] Deputies who are expelled from factions or decide to leave them become individual lawmakers; individual deputies are allowed to unite into parliamentary groups of people's deputies then again at least 15 deputies are required for the formation of such groups.[24][60] Several influential parties have been founded after they had already founded a faction in the Verkhovna Rada, examples of this are the Party of Regions, All-Ukrainian Union "Fatherland" and Labour Ukraine.[61][62][63][64]

Each parliamentary faction or group is headed by its leader. Parliamentarians may become unaffiliated from the initially elected faction and realigned under a different parliamentary group or defecting into another faction. Recently there has established a term for such lawmakers - "tushky" which is a sort of derogatory word meaning "carcass".[65][66] The term is applied to deputies allegedly bribed to switch faction.[65]

Since the 2012 Ukrainian parliamentary election women made up 10 percent of the parliament;[67] in 2010 women made up 8.5 percent of the parliament compared to an average of 30 percent in Europe.[68] Several millionaires are member of Rada factions.[69][70][71][72][73][74][74][75][76][77][78]

14 Rada lawmakers missed all 51 parliament sessions in 2010.[77]

Current factions

On 12 December 2012 five factions where formed (at the opening session of the new parliament formed after the 2012 Ukrainian parliamentary election).[79]

Parliamentary majority and Majority's opposition

  • The first parliamentary majority was composed out the Communist Party (Bolsheviks) of Ukraine known as the "Group 239". On July 16, 1990 the parliament adopted the Declaration about the State sovereignty of Ukraine. Out of 385 attending deputies for the declaration voted 355 with only 4 votes against it, 26 other deputies did not take part in voting.
  • On December 22, 1998 the parliamentary majority of the 3rd convocation was created in Verkhovna Rada. It consisted of following factions: "Fatherland", Group "Revival of regions", "Community", Party of Greens of Ukraine, People-Democratic Party, People's Movement of Ukraine, People's Movement of Ukraine (first), Group "Independents", Party "Reforms and Order" - "Reforms-Congress", Social-Democratic Party of Ukraine (united), Labor Party of Ukraine, and non-affiliated deputies.
  • On September 27, 2002 the parliamentary majority of the 4th convocation was created in Verkhovna Rada. It consisted of following factions: "Agrarians of Ukraine", People-Democratic Party, parties of Industrialist and Entrepreneurs and "Toiling Ukraine", "Regions of Ukraine", Social-Democratic Party of Ukraine (united), Group "Democratic Initiatives", Group "European Choice", Group "People's Choice", Group "People's Authority".[80]
  • On June 22, 2006 the parliamentary majority of the 5th convocation was created in Verkhovna Rada as the Coalition of Democratic Forces. It consisted of following factions: "Our Ukraine", Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko, Socialist Party of Ukraine.

On July 7, 2006 the parliamentary majority of the 5th convocation was created once again in Verkhovna Rada as the Anti-Crisis Coalition. It consisted of following factions: Party of Regions, Communist Party of Ukraine, Socialist Party of Ukraine, and few deputies from "Our Ukraine" and Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko.

Deputies

Main article: People's Deputy of Ukraine

According to the "Law of Ukraine about elections of national deputies of Ukraine"[82] a national deputy may become a citizen of Ukraine who on the day of elections a) reached 21 years of age; b) has the right to vote; c) resided in Ukraine for the last five years.

Verkhovna Rada deputies have the right to free transportation, free use of the hall of official delegations, free housing, free medical services and free vacations at health spas.[83][84] Each deputy is allowed to have up to 31 assistants-consultants four out of them are allowed to be admitted into the Secretariat of Verkhovna Rada.[85] The Ukrainian President, Prime Minister, members of the government and the Verkhovna Rada deputies also have parliamentary immunity[86](law enforcement also cannot search their homes or follow them.[87]). During the Orange Revolution[87] and the campaign for the 2007 parliamentary election Party of Regions, OU-PSD and BYuT all promised to strip lawmakers of their parliamentary immunity.[86] June 2008 the parliament failed to adopt the bill on restriction of privileges for deputies and introduction of imperative mandate. 192 people's deputies voted "for" the bill submitted by the BYuT faction out of 436 deputies registered in the session hall. The factions of the opposition Party of Regions, as well as the CPU and the Lytvyn Bloc voted against, the OU-PSD faction voted partially "for" and the BYUT faction voted (fully) "for". A proposal to send the bill for the first reading for the second time did also not find support.[83] In May 2009 the second Tymoshenko Government approved a bill amending the law on the status of a people's deputies of Ukraine, this bill reduces certain privileges for incumbent deputies and former deputies.[88] The parliament canceled some benefits and payments to lawmakers in December 2011.[89]

The deputies possess full personal legal immunity during the term of office.[90] In cases of egregious malfeasance, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine or the Head of the Supreme Court of Ukraine can request that a deputy's immunity be revoked; the decision whether to revoke is up to the Verkhovna Rada. Deputies can also tend in there resignation themselves.[91][92]

As of March 25, 2010 no deputy's immunity or their privileges were revoked.[93][94] Individual deputies can be stripped of their immunity if a bill to strip their rights is passed by the Verkhovna Rada.[87]

When the work of the parliament is blocked during plenary meetings wages are not credited to deputies.[95]

Oath of office

Before assuming office, the Verkhovna Rada's deputies must take the following oath before the parliament:

In original Ukrainian:

In English translation:

Speakers and vice-speakers

The parliament elects from among its ranks the Chairman (Speaker; Ukrainian: Голова Верховної Ради), the First Deputy Chairman, and the Deputy Chairman.[96]

Before the Chairman of a newly convoked Rada is elected, parliamentary sessions are presided over by members of a temporary presidium of the first session (Ukrainian: тимчасова президія першої сесії). The temporary presidium is composed of five deputies, representing the four largest parliamentary fractions plus the chairman of a preparatory deputy group of the first parliamentary session, however the Rada may enact an ad hoc deviation from this composition rule.

The Chairman presides over parliamentary sessions, signs bills and sends them to the President for promulgation, signs and promulgates parliamentary acts (other than bills), organises staff work, etc.[97] The chairman is also allowed to call special sessions of parliament,[98] enact bills vetoed by the president only when the Verkhovna Rada votes to overcome the veto by a two-thirds majority, and participate in meetings of the National Security and Defence Council.[99]

Formerly in case the post of the President of Ukraine becomes vacant, the Chairman of the Rada becomes acting head of state with limited authority.[100] However that power of the chairman was once again suspended in 2010 when the amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine were reverted based on decision of the Constitution Court of Ukraine. Currently the first succession of power after the President of Ukraine belongs to the Prime Minister of Ukraine. The chairman of the parliament as the acting president could dissolve the parliament, appoint or submit for parliamentary approval candidates for many key official posts, grant military ranks or state orders, or exercise the right of pardon.[100] The Constitution and Ukrainian legislation contained no provisions for presidential succession in case the posts of President and Chairman of the Rada were both vacant.

Secretariat of Verkhovna Rada

Office of Ombudsman

The Office of Ombudsman at the Verkhovna Rada was established in 1998 since then was headed by Nina Karpachova. The office has its own secretariat and advising council.

Committees

Main article: Committees of the Supreme Council of Ukraine

Verkhovna Rada has many parliamentary committees composed of various deputies.[101] On 25 December 2012 the current parliament formed 29 committees and an ad hoc supervisory board.[101] The sixth session of the council (2007–2012) had 28 committees among the most popular were the Budget Committee, the Special Control Commission of Verkhovna Rada in Privatization, and the Committee in Transportation and Communications. There are no permanent or standing committees, but most of committees are being reformed from one convocation to another. One of the most important is the Verkhovna Rada committee on Budget.

Investigative commissions

Members of the Verkhovna Rada are allowed to created temporary investigative commissions. To create such a commission it is necessary only one third of the constitutional composition of parliament, 150 members. Before, however, the draft on creation of such commission could be placed for voting, it has to be approved by its relevant committee which is the Committee on the Regulation, deputy ethics, and ensuring the work of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

Mass media

  • Holos Ukrainy (newspaper) - (Voice of Ukraine)
  • Rada TV

International membership

Ukrainian PACE delegation

Ukraine was accepted as a full member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in 1995.

It is represented there by the parliamentary delegation of Verkhovna Rada consisting of 12 representatives including the chairperson of delegation and the vice-chairperson and their 12 substitutes; in total, 24 members. Ukrainian delegation also has its own permanent secretariat of four members that assist in the inter-parliamentary relationships between PACE and Verkhovna Rada. For the full list of members, refer to the PACE main website at assembly.coe.int.

  • 2002-2006 Borys Oliynyk (CPU), Anatoliy Rakhansky (LB)
  • 2006-2007 Serhiy Holovaty (OU), Hryhoriy Nemyria (BYuT)
  • 2007-2012 Ivan Popescu (PR), Olha Herasymiyuk (OU)
  • 2012-now Ivan Popescu (PR), Serhiy Sobolyev (Fa)

Others

Elections

Political developments in Ukraine have caused repeated changes of the parliamentary electoral system. Each convocation of the Verkhovna Rada has been elected under a different set of laws (gradually evolving from the purely majoritarian scheme of the Soviet era to a purely proportional scheme, effective in 2006 under the transitional provisions of the constitutional amendments).

In the 1990 and 1994 elections, all 450 MPs were elected by majority voting. At the time, Ukraine was divided in 450 electoral districts. Each district sent 1 MP to parliament. In order to win the election, a candidate needed more than 50% of the votes. If no candidate had 50%, then the two candidates with the most votes ran in a second round.

In the 1998 and 2002 elections,[10] 225 MPs were elected by majority voting as earlier (with the exception, that the candidate needed only a simple majority to win). Another 225 MPs were elected on a proportional basis. These seats were divided between the parties who obtained 4% or greater support in the general election.

In the 2006 election and 2007 elections, all deputies were elected on a proportional basis. All seats were divided between the parties that obtained 3% or more support of voters. For the 2007 election, the threshold percentage was not changed, but some amendments to the election process were made. In the last election that took place on 28 October 2012.[11] a mixed voting system was again used (50% under party lists and 50% under simple-majority constituencies)[8] with a 5% election threshold.[9]

2012 elections

See also

References

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External links

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