Shortly after becoming independent, Ukraine named a parliamentary commission to prepare a new constitution, adopted a multi-party system, and adopted legislative guarantees of civil and political rights for national minorities. A new, democratic constitution was adopted on June 28, 1996, which mandates a pluralistic political system with protection of basic human rights and liberties.
Freedom of religion is guaranteed by law, although religious organizations are required to register with local authorities and with the central government. Minority rights are respected in accordance with a 1991 law guaranteeing ethnic minorities the right to schools and cultural facilities and the use of national languages in conducting personal business. According to the Ukrainian constitution, Ukrainian is the only official state language. However, in Crimea and some parts of eastern Ukraine--areas with substantial ethnic Russian minorities--local and regional governments permit Russian as a language for local official correspondence.
Freedom of speech and press are guaranteed by law and by the constitution, but authorities sometimes interfere with the news media through intimidation and other forms of pressure. In particular, the failure of the government to conduct a thorough, credible, and transparent investigation into the 2000 disappearance and murder of independent journalist Heorhiy Gongadze has had a negative effect on Ukraine's international image.
Ethnic tensions in Crimea during 1992 prompted a number of pro-Russian political organizations to advocate secession of Crimea and annexation to Russia. (Crimea was ceded to Ukraine in 1954 by First Secretary Khrushchev, in recognition of historic links and for economic convenience, to mark the 300th anniversary of Ukrainian union with Russia.) In July 1992, the Crimean and Ukrainian parliaments determined that Crimea would remain under Ukrainian jurisdiction while retaining significant cultural and economic autonomy.
Official trade unions have been grouped under the Federation of Trade Unions. A number of independent unions, which emerged during 1992, among them the Independent Union of Miners of Ukraine, have formed the Consultative Council of Free Trade Unions. While the right to strike is legally guaranteed, strikes based solely on political demands are prohibited.
In July 1994, Leonid Kuchma was elected as Ukraine's second president in free and fair elections. Kuchma was reelected in November 1999 to another five-year term, with 56 % of the vote. International observers criticized aspects of the election, especially slanted media coverage; however, the outcome of the vote was not called into question. In March 2002, Ukraine held its most recent parliamentary elections, which were characterized by the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) as flawed but an improvement over the 1998 elections. The pro-presidential "For a United Ukraine" bloc won the largest number of seats, followed by the reformist "Our Ukraine" bloc of former Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko, and the Communist Party. There are 450 seats in parliament, with half chosen from party lists by proportional vote and half from individual constituencies.
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Ukraine
local long form: none
local short form: Ukrayina
former: Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic
Data code: UP
Government type: republic
Capital: Kiev (Kyiv)
24 oblasti (singular - oblast'), 1 autonomous republic* (avtonomna respublika), and 2 municipalities (mista, singular - misto) with oblast status**;
Avtonomna Respublika Krym* (Simferopol'),
note: oblasts have the administrative center name following in parentheses
Constitution: adopted 28 June 1996
Legal system: based on civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
|Table of contents|
2 Legislative branch
3 Judicial branch
4 Political parties and leaders
5 International organization participation
6 Flag description
chief of state: President Leonid D. KUCHMA (since 19 July 1994)
head of government: Prime Minister Viktor YUSHCHENKO (since 22 December 1999), First Deputy Prime Minister Yuriy YEKHANUROV (since 30 December 1999), and three deputy prime ministers
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president and approved by the Supreme Council
note: there is also a National Security and Defense Council or NSDC originally created in 1992 as the National Security Council, but significantly revamped and strengthened under President KUCHMA; the NSDC staff is tasked with developing national security policy on domestic and international matters and advising the president; a Presidential Administration that helps draft presidential edicts and provides policy support to the president; and a Council of Regions that serves as an advisory body created by President KUCHMA in September 1994 that includes chairmen of the Kyyiv (Kiev) and Sevastopol' municipalities and chairmen of the oblasti
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 31 October and 14 November 1999 (next to be held NA 2004); prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the president and approved by the People's Council
election results: Leonid D. KUCHMA elected president; percent of vote - Leonid KUCHMA 56.21%, Petro SYMONENKO 37.77%
unicameral Supreme Council or Verkhovna Rada (450 seats; under Ukraine's new election law, half of the Rada's seats are allocated on a proportional basis to those parties that gain 4% of the national electoral vote; the other 225 members are elected by popular vote in single-mandate constituencies; all serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 29 March 1998 (next to be held NA 2002)
election results: percent of vote by party (for parties clearing 4% hurdle on 29 March 1998) - Communist 24.7%, Rukh (combined) 9.4%, Socialist/Peasant 8.6%, Green 5.3%, People's Democratic Party 5.0%, Hromada 4.7%, Progressive Socialist 4.0%, United Social Democratic Party 4.0%; seats by faction (as of 25 February 2000) - Communist 115, PRVU 36, Fatherland Party 35, United Social Democratic 34, People's Democratic Party 27, Trudova Ukrayina 27, Rukh (K) 27, left-center 23, Green 18, Rukh (U) 17, Peasant Party 15, Hromada 14, Reforms Congress 12, independents 14, unaffiliated 31, vacant 5
Supreme Court; Constitutional Court
Political parties and leaders
Agrarian Party of Ukraine or APU [Mykhaylo HLADIY, chairperson]; Communist Party of Ukraine [Petro SYMONENKO]; Fatherland (Motherland) All Ukrainian Party [Yuliya TYMOSHENKO, chairperson]; Green Party of Ukraine or PZU [Vitaliy KONONOV, chairman]; Hromada [Pavlo LAZARENKO]; Liberal Party of Ukraine or LPU [Volodymyr SHCHERBAN]; Party of Regional Revival of Ukraine or PRVU [Volodymyr RYBAK]; Peasant Party of Ukraine or SelPU [Serhiy DOVHAN]; People's Democratic Party [Valeriy PUSTOVOYTENKO, chairman]; People's Movement of Ukraine or Rukh U [Hennadiy UDOVENKO, chairman]; Progressive Socialist Party [Nataliya VITRENKO]; Reforms Congress [leader NA]; Reforms and Order Party [Viktor PYNZENYK]; Sobor Party [Anatoliy MATVIYENKO, chairman]; Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (United) [Viktor MEDVEDCHUK, chairman]; Socialist Party of Ukraine or SPU [Oleksandr MOROZ, chairman]; Trudova Ukrayina/Working Ukraine [Igor SHAROV, chairman]; Ukrainian Popular Movement or Rukh K [Yuriy KOSTENKO, chairman]; United Social Democratic Party of Ukraine [Viktor MEDVEDCHUK]; Yabluko Party [Viktor CHAYKA, chairman]
note: and numerous smaller parties
International organization participation
BSEC, CCC, CE, CEI, CIS, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO, ITU, NAM (observer), NSG, OAS (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, PFP, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNMOP, UNMOT, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO (applicant), Zangger Committee