Constitution Day of Ukraine: history and interesting facts

Yulia PoteriankoLife
The adoption of the Constitution of Ukraine in 1996 was celebrated with the presentation of a giant blue-and-yellow flag to the Verkhovna Rada.

Every year on June 28, Ukraine celebrates one of the most important state holidays, Constitution Day. It was established in honor of the adoption of the Basic Law in 1996. It took place at a historic meeting of the Verkhovna Rada, which lasted 24 hours.

OBOZREVATEL tells the history of this holiday, as well as interesting facts about the modern Constitution of Ukraine and its historical predecessors.

History of Constitution Day

Without the Basic Law, the independent Ukrainian state existed or almost five years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. During that time we had to rely on the Constitution of the former USSR to solve many problems, including those of state importance.

The process of drafting the Constitution of our country began back in October 24, 1990. At that time, the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR formed a Commission for drafting the new Constitution of the Ukrainian SSR. Right after Ukraine received its independence, it was decided that the document would consolidate the main provisions of the Declaration on State Sovereignty of Ukraine and become the basis for the development of a sovereign state governed by the rule of law.

However, the first few drafts of the Constitution failed to pass because of the confrontation between Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk and the Verkhovna Rada. To resolve this crisis, on June 8, 1995, the Constitutional Treaty between the branches of power was adopted. But it did not solve all problems.

Therefore, on November 24, 1995, the Constitutional Commission supported the proposal of the President of Ukraine and created a new working group to revise the constitutional draft. While the work on the document was going on, the constitutional crisis in the state was worsening. Therefore on June 26, 1996 the National Security Council and the Council of Regions controlled by the President of Ukraine heavily criticized any further delay in adopting the Basic Law.

On the next day the session of the Parliament started, at which it was decided that the deputies would not leave the session hall until the Constitution had been adopted. The historic voting took place at 9:18 a.m. on June 28. 315 deputies supported the main law. After that, a giant flag, another symbol of the Ukrainian statehood, was brought into the hall of sessions.

Interesting facts about the Constitution of Ukraine

Constitution Day is the only state holiday that is fixed in the text of the Basic Law.

A total of 15 variants of the Constitution were proposed and worked out.

Ukraine was the last country of the former Soviet Union to adopt its own Constitution. However, the efforts were paid off by the fact that the document was recognized to be one of the most democratic in the world on the international level.

The Museum of books and printing houses the smallest copy of the Ukrainian Constitution. It has the size 21x32 mm and consists of 160 pages, on which about 9.5 thousand letters were written by hand. It took about two months to produce this unique publication.

If the deputies couldn't adopt the Constitution, the people would do it. President Leonid Kuchma on the eve of the historic vote issued a decree appointing a referendum, where the citizens would have to have their say. However, when parliament succeeded, he rescinded that decree.

Historical origins of the Constitution of Ukraine

The constitutional process in our state can be called one of the oldest in the world. In 1710 there were published "Treaties and Resolutions of the Rights and Freedoms of Zaporozhian Host", also known as the Constitution of Pylyp Orlyk. It is impossible to call this document a full-fledged Basic Law by modern standards. However, it defined many key aspects of the Cossack state existence, i.e. it performed a similar function. The document never entered into force.

The attempt to approve the state Constitution was also made by the Central Rada of the UPR. It adopted the document on April 29, 1918. However, on the same day, the UPR was overthrown by the Hetman of the Ukrainian State Pavlo Skoropadsky. However, his government also proposed its own version of the Basic Law. It was called the Law on the Provisional State Structure of Ukraine.

During the Soviet period, four versions of the Constitution of the Ukrainian SSR were published: in 1919, 1929, 1937 and 1978. The latter was the current basic law of Ukraine up to the adoption of the current version.

For the whole time of existence of the Constitution of Ukraine it has been amended seven times. The last change concerned the abolition of deputy immunity. The next may be a change in the provision on the family, which will allow to legalize same-sex marriages in our state. But it won't happen until the martial law ends as you can't change the constitution while it's in force.

The Constitution of Ukraine is one of the two books on which the newly elected president holds his hand while taking the oath of office. The other is the Peresopnytsia Gospel, an outstanding cultural monument of the 16th century.

Earlier, OBOZREVATEL told if Constitution Day will be a day off this year.

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