While the Verkhovna Rada spent this week on amendments to the law that will allow to sell lands of state and communal ownership, we kept a close eye on the work of the President of Ukraine. This week he yet again appropriated powers that belong to the Cabinet, gave the Cabinet an unconstitutional order, and awarded decorations to fighters of volunteer units. Another important decision was made by the mayor of Kyiv Vitalii Klychko: without having the authority, he introduced new lockdown restrictions in the capital. The mayor explained that he was forced to strengthen the lockdown because the President and the Parliament ignore the problem of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases.
Lockdown in Kyiv
Decision-maker: the mayor of Kyiv.
Who is affected: inhabitants and guests of Kyiv, businesses.
What does it change: from March 20 until April 9, additional lockdown restrictions will be in force in Kyiv. In particular:
- cultural institutions (cinemas, theatres, museums, and concert halls) and shopping malls (except for groceries, pharmacies, pet shops, and stores selling personal hygiene products and household chemicals) will have to close
- public events and divine services will be prohibited
- sports competitions will allow no spectators.
Also, there will be additional restrictions for public dining facilities: they will be allowed to work only with to-go and delivery options. Budget-funded enterprises, organizations, and units will switch to remote work where possible, educational establishments will work remotely after the end of holidays.
What is wrong:
- The mayor of Kyiv/head of Kyiv City State Administration does not have the authority to restrict constitutional rights and freedoms of people and citizens — including the right to free enterprise and the freedom of peaceful assembly. His decision to impose the lockdown is a serious violation of the Constitution
- law enforcement agencies will not have the authority to punish the non-compliance with the introduced lockdown restrictions
- precedents of government institutions or officials resorting to arbitrary restrictions of human rights and freedoms (while not having the legal authority to do that) are highly dangerous. In the long run, they threaten the Ukrainian democracy.
Alternative solution: the number of hospitalization is, in fact, critical, so it is reasonable to introduce stricter lockdown restrictions. However, the restrictions that seriously infringe human rights and freedoms should be enforced only in strict compliance with the Constitution by declaring a state of emergency throughout the country or on particular territories. According to the procedure, it has to be initiated by the President with the consent from the Verkhovna Rada.
National youth strategy until 2030 (Decree # 94/2021)
Decision-maker: the President.
Who is affected: youth, government bodies, and local governments.
What does the decree change:
- outlines a unified long-term plan for state youth policy
- defines the following priorities for the youth policy: safety, health, competitive fitness, increase in youth mobility and integration in the social life of the country
- orders the Cabinet to develop a special-purpose state program “Youth of Ukraine” for 2021-2025 within a month. Oblast state administrations are supposed to develop local special-purpose youth programs for 2021-2025.
What is wrong:
- youth state policies are the responsibility of the Cabinet and the Ministry of Youth and Sports. By issuing a decree on youth strategy, the President de facto appropriates some of the powers that belong to the executive branch
- according to the Constitution, the Cabinet is an independent policy-maker and the President has no authority to give it any orders
- recurring interference in Cabinet’s affairs from the President is a kind of “creeping usurpation” of power in Ukraine. It also hinders the development and implementation of unified state policies on the issues the President interferes with.
Decorations for volunteer fighters (Decree # 97/2021)
Decision-maker: the President.
Who is affected: volunteer fighters and families of the volunteers killed in action.
What does the decree change: 67 volunteer fighters were awarded the Order for Courage III degree, 64 of them posthumously.
What is right: it is proper to commemorate volunteer fighters by honoring them with awards for defending Ukraine from the armed aggression of the Russian Federation. Also, the decree finally made it possible to equate fighters of volunteer units with servicemen and law enforcement officers that participated in fighting off Russian military aggression.
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