Ukraine Returns to Older Version of Its Constitution

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Ukraine has returned to the Constitution of 1996, allowing the president more power. This decision was adopted by the Constitutional Court. Our correspondent from Kyiv reports on the changes expected in the country.

Returning to the old version of the basic law of Ukraine was decided by the Constitutional Court in response to a request by 252 Members of Parliament, mostly from the pro-presidential Party of Regions.

The solution is based on the fact that the 2004 version of the Constitution did not pass an appropriate expert review in the Constitutional Court. This decision to return to the old constitution is fueling controversial reactions, both in Ukraine and abroad.

In the Venice Commission, which deals with issues of constitutional law and was established by the Council of Europe, the verdict of the Court surprised even the Ukraine representative.

[Marina Stavniychuk, Member, Venice Commission of Ukraine]:
"How could the Constitutional Court declare unconstitutional the very constitution they have been applying for almost 6 years? The Court, which aims to protect the Constitution, became a factor that destabilizes the constitutional order in Ukraine."

Officials in the President's Administration say that presidential powers from 1996 are required for president Yanukovych in order to control the progress of reforms in the country.

[Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine President]:
"The new reform of the political system is an integral part of the course of reform and becomes a tangible step towards national consensus."

Now, the president can appoint and dismiss the prime minister. The same goes for ministers. Parliament does not need a coalition anymore, and the members of parliament will serve four years, not five. Political experts say returning to the old constitution should entail not only the expansion of presidential powers, but also re-electing the Parliament and the Cabinet of Ministers.

NTD, Kyiv, Ukraine.

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