Verkhovna Rada online broadcasts volumes of information but sometimes it is hard to interpret it. In today’s digest, we will present to you our analysis of draft bill #6342 concerning the future of the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine and draft bill #6341 concerning the national and civic identity.
Extension of the special status of the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine
Draft bill #6342 of November 23, 2021
Cosponsors: 31 MPs from Servant of the People faction and 2 MPs from the Trust group.
Who is affected: Ukrainian citizens, government bodies, service members.
- in September 2014, after units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and volunteer battalions were surrounded and executed in the “humanitarian corridor,” Ukraine was forced to sign the so-called Minsk agreements under military pressure by Russia
- in February 2015, Ukraine signed a new agreement on implementing the Minsk Protocol — the so-called Minsk II. According to this document, Ukraine has to pardon the members of Russian occupational military forces, hold elections on the occupied territories, and give the occupational authorities significant powers. In other words, Ukraine took an obligation to grant special self-governing status for the TOT (even to recognize it in the Constitution) and thus legalize Russian intrusion
- to meet Russian demands, the Verkhovna Rada granted the special status for TOT for three years by adopting a law on September 16, 2014. The law is now annually extended by the Verkhovna Rada elected in 2021. In reality, though, the law does not work since it is impossible to hold elections on the occupied territories.
Summary of the bill: extends the law on the special status of the temporarily occupied territories for the period from December 31, 2021, to December 31, 2022.
What is wrong:
- the Minsk Protocol in general and, in particular, the special status of TOT was singed under Russian pressure. The Protocol aims to integrate the TOT back into Ukraine without deoccupation and use them as leverage over the Ukrainian state
- the Law on the Special Status of the TOT is unconstitutional: Ukraine is a unitary state and at the same time the law creates a special territorial unit that has only some formal ties with the rest of the country and prevents Ukraine from exercising state power there at the level it is exercised on the rest of the territories
- without promoting alternative models of stopping the Russian aggression by diplomatic means, by annual extensions of the law Ukraine risks that one day it will be forced to actually implement this law with results detrimental to the state.
Alternative solution: the authorities should work on creating a favorable economic, political, diplomatic, and military environment to revise the agreements on terms more favorable for Ukraine.
State policy to promote national and civic identity
Draft bill #6341 of November 23, 2021
Cosponsors: 32 MPs from factions Servant of the People, Batkivshchyna, European solidarity, Holos, and an independent MP Oksana Savchuk.
Who is affected: Ukrainian citizens, government bodies, teachers.
Summary of the bill:
- introduces a state policy on promoting Ukrainian national and civic identity in order to unite the society on the grounds of adhering to human rights and freedoms, overcoming conflicts of social, cultural, language, regional, and interregional nature
- defines national values of Ukraine: unity, selfhood, freedom, and dignity
- approves a list of strategic documents on the issue: the Strategy of promoting Ukrainian national and civic identity, special-purpose, regional, and local programs on promoting the identity, and action plans for government bodies
- defines the state policy on the issue as consisting of three components: national and patriotic education, military and patriotic education, and civic education
- establishes the National Commission on Promoting Ukrainian National and Civic Identity. This body will develop the state policy on the issue, coordinate the work of government bodies, and evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation of the strategic documents
- envisages the creation of a network of centers for the promotion of Ukrainian and civic identity that will implement the state policy on the issue at the local level.
What is wrong:
- the bill proposes an authoritarian approach to the formation of national and civic identities. In this respect, it is similar to Soviet legislation. Results will be the following: the state will try to force patriotic ideas onto people and people will start rejecting these ideas since they are promoted by authoritarian means. Ukrainian people aspire to build a democracy and such methods are unacceptable
- the bill looks more like a state policy and not the law, so it should have been prepared and adopted by the Cabinet, not the Verkhovna Rada
- it is unjustified to create a national regulatory body like the National Commission for State Regulation of Energy and Public Utilities. Such bodies are created for economic sectors with natural monopolies because the state is thus balancing the interests of society and business. In other spheres a regular system of governance should be used: functions proposed by the bill should be performed by either a ministry or other central executive bodies
- the attempt to grant the national regulatory body the authority to develop a state policy is unconstitutional. This is an exclusive prerogative of the Cabinet and its ministries
- to define fundamental national values by law contradicts the idea of law as a system of mandatory rules of behavior. The law cannot and should not define what people have to believe in.
Alternative solution: national and civic identity depends on upbringing, education, living conditions, and the quality of governance, in particular, local self-governance, the level of freedom of personal development, and freedom to conduct business. Politicians and top officials can have some influence on the issues of identity only by their own patriotic deeds and by withholding from using their power as the means to promote themselves as being patriotic while achieving no real results.
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