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Ukraine: sovereign decentralisation or federalism without sovereignty? OSW Commentary No. 133, 18.04.2014

Olszanski, Tadeusz A. (2014) Ukraine: sovereign decentralisation or federalism without sovereignty? OSW Commentary No. 133, 18.04.2014. [Policy Paper]

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    A key element of Russia’s policy towards the new government of Ukraine concerns demands for a constitutional reform that would transform the country from a unitary into a federal state in a way that would considerably privilege the eastern and southern regions. Such a change to Ukraine’s administrative system would enable Moscow to put pressure on Ukraine’s central government via the regions. In order to achieve its objectives, Russia has been pressuring Kyiv to establish a constitutional assembly in a form that would guarantee the endorsement of solutions dictated by Russia. In other words, Russia has been demanding, in what is practically an ultimatum, that Ukraine give up one of the fundamental sovereign rights of a state, the right to freely determine its system of government. Transforming Ukraine into a federal state is an unacceptable idea, primarily because the intention behind Russia’s demands is to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty, both through the content of the proposed changes and the way in which they are to be implemented. However, keeping in place the current, centralist model of state governance is not a feasible alternative. Ukraine will have to grant its regions broad self-governance powers, including the power to hold local referendums, and to transfer a considerable portion of the prerogatives currently held by the state to the local self-governments, along with adequate financial resources. That is because decentralisation along these lines is the only way forward towards a modern democracy in Ukraine. Russia’s policy has forced Kyiv to undertake legislative work on constitutional reform as a matter of urgency, rather than waiting until a new parliament is elected in which the new, post-Maidan balance of political power will be reflected, as political logic would require. The first draft of the constitutional amendments (of which no details are known at this stage) is to be presented in mid-May, and is expected to come into force in early autumn. However, whether these plans can be put into practice depends on further developments in the eastern part of Ukraine, because (among other reasons) if a state of emergency is introduced, the constitutional amendment process will have to be suspended.

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    Item Type: Policy Paper
    Subjects for non-EU documents: Countries > Russia
    Countries > Ukraine
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Series: Series > Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW) > OSW Commentary
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2014 16:35
    Number of Pages: 6
    Last Modified: 06 Dec 2014 16:37

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