PARLIAMENT IN TIMES OF WAR

PARLIAMENT IN TIMES OF WAR

Updates on Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada

Highlights from the Verkhovna Rada’s Work in 2023

2023 has ended, marking nearly two years of ongoing full-scale war in Ukraine and the nation’s Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, operating under martial law. Despite challenging obstacles and occasional tension within the institution, the Rada has been very active. Although the number of plenary sittings decreased by three times compared to 2022, the legislative output has not decreased. In 2023, 251 laws and 406 resolutions were adopted, along with approximately 10 significant personnel decisions.

Changes in the Composition of the Verkhovna Rada

Last year brought notable changes in the number of MPs in the Ukrainian parliament. As of January 2024, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine consists of 401 MPs, which is 49 fewer than its constitutional composition.

Since January 2023, 17 MPs have lost their seats pre-termly, which accounts for 3.8% of the constitutional composition of the Verkhovna Rada. Almost half of them were nominated by the pro-Russian political party “Opposition Platform – For Life” and, at various times, belonged to the faction of the same name, and after its banning, to the newly formed parliamentary group “Platform for Life and Peace”.

The rapid decrease in the number of MPs became a cause for concern, as it can affect the quorum in committees and jeopardize the existence of certain parliamentary factions/groups. In order to avoid the latter, at the end of the year, draft law №10324 was registered, amending the Rules of Procedure of the Verkhovna Rada for the period of martial law and within 90 days after its lifting. In particular, it was proposed to reduce the minimum number of MPs in a parliamentary faction/group required for their continued existence to 14. Meanwhile, the parliamentary groups “Restoration of Ukraine” and “Party “For the Future” remain on the edge of “dissolution.”

Decisions concerning the Personnel of Verkhovna Rada

Several changes occurred in the top government circles. Throughout the year, the Verkhovna Rada voted on the following new appointments:

February 2023

Ihor Klymenko: Appointed as Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine

Former Role: Head of the National Police of Ukraine

Predecessor: Denys Monastyrskyi (deceased in a plane crash)

 

Vasyl Malyuk: Appointed Head of the Security Service of Ukraine 

Former Role: Acting Head of the Security Service of Ukraine

Predecessor: Ivan Bakanov (dismissed by the President for failure to fulfill duties)

 

March 2023

Oleksandr Kamyshin: Appointed as Minister for Strategic Industries of Ukraine

Previous Role: Chairman of the Board of JSC Ukrainian Railways

Predecessor: Pavlo Riabikin (resigned)

 

Mykhailo Fedorov: Appointed as Vice Prime Minister for Innovation, Development of Education, Science and Technologies of Ukraine – Minister of Digital Transformation

Former Role: Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine 

Predecessor: none (newly created position).

 

Oksen Lisovyi: Appointed as Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine

Former Role: Director of National center “Minor Academy of Sciences of Ukraine”

Predecessor: Serhiy Shkarlet (resigned due to public dissatisfaction and numerous protests)

 

September 2023

Rustem Umierov: Appointed as Minister of Defense of Ukraine 

Former Role: Head of the State Property Fund of Ukraine

Predecessor: Oleksii Reznikov (resigned due to numerous corruption scandals in the Armed Forces of Ukraine)

 

Pavlo Kyrylenko: Appointed as Chair of the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine

Former Role: Head of the Donetsk Regional State Administration

Predecessor: Olha Pishchanska (resigned)

 

November 2023 

Vitaliy Koval: Appointed as Head of the State Property Fund of Ukraine

Former Role: Head of the Rivne Regional State Administration

Predecessor: Rustem Umierov (resigned due to his appointment to a new position)

The appointment of new members to the Accounting Chamber of Ukraine, which is responsible for the control over the revenues of the State Budget of Ukraine and the use thereof, has also attracted significant attention. Notably, one of them was the new head of the Accounting Chamber, Olha Pishchanska, appointed in January 2024. Previously, in September 2023, she resigned from her position as the Head of the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine. She was expected to take Rustem Umierov’s place in the State Property Fund.

The appointments were made against the background of warnings from Ukraine’s foreign partners, specifically the G7 Ambassadors’ Group, who support reforms in Ukraine. It is important to note that this dissension arose due to the incomplete reform of the Accounting Chamber, aimed at enhancing the independence and transparency of its audit activities.

“Appointment of new leadership should happen only after the passage of legislation that ensures a transparent & merit-based competition with proper vetting.”

@G7AmbReformUA (Twitter)

Three Key Adopted Laws

Law of Ukraine №3337-IX 1 of 23.08.2023 “On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine on Improving State Financing and Control over the Activities of Political Parties”

Essence: The law provides for the resumption of reporting by political parties on their property, income, expenses, and financial liabilities, as well as state control over their financing. The National Agency on Corruption Prevention will verify the legality of the targeted use of public funds, party reporting, and independent financial audits. The changes also concern the percentage threshold that a party must overcome in elections to receive state funding. Thus, the barrier was reduced from 5% to 3%, ensuring the representation of more political parties and reducing oligarchic influence on the electoral process and their activities. 

 

Law of Ukraine № 3354-IX 1 of 24.08.2023 “On Lawmaking” 

Essence: The law sets the essential elements of the legislative process, including the stages of drafting laws. It also defines the legal and organizational framework for lawmaking, the principles and order of its implementation, the participants of lawmaking, the rules for the operation of legal acts, the elimination of gaps in legal acts, etc. Another crucial aspect is that any legislative initiative must be accompanied by relevant analytical documents: Green and White Papers and legislative impact assessments. Furthermore, legal monitoring is being introduced to ensure enhanced parliamentary oversight of the effectiveness of legislation application.

 

Law of Ukraine № 3504-IX of 08.12.2023 “On Amendments to Certain Laws of Ukraine on Taking into Account the Expert Opinion of the Council of Europe and its Bodies on the Rights of National Minorities (Communities) in Certain Areas”

Essence: The law takes into account the recommendations of the Venice Commission to expand the rights of national minorities, mainly through amendments to laws related to the state language, media, and education. In fact, by adopting these recommendations, Ukraine fulfilled one of the main requirements to initiate negotiations for joining the European Union. The key provisions include allowing the distribution of campaign materials in the languages of national minorities, permitting the use of these languages in the educational process alongside the state language, and granting the freedom to choose the language of instruction in private higher education institutions. Restrictions only apply to the official languages of the aggressor or occupying state. 

 

About this update on Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada

Ukraine’s democratically elected officials continue to perform their duties while enduring Russia’s unprovoked and horrific invasion. These briefing notes provide the latest information about the legislative activities of the Verkhovna Rada.

Briefing notes are prepared by the Parliamentary Centre and the Agency for Legislative Initiatives under the Parliamentary Accountability for the Security Sector (PASS Ukraine) project, funded by the Peace and Stabilization Operations Program of Global Affairs Canada. The analysis included in this note is based on media reports and information obtained from the Verkhovna Rada and other legislative bodies.

This note is for information only and is not meant to convey opinions regarding policy decisions in the Verkhovna Rada’s sole purview. The contents of this note do not necessarily reflect the views of PASS partners or Global Affairs Canada. Every attempt is made to ensure the accuracy of all information, acknowledging the fluid humanitarian and security situation, the disruption of the flow of information and organized disinformation.

Previous PASS Ukraine briefs are available on the Parliamentary Centre website.

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