Local government in Ukraine

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Local government in Ukraine consists of Administrative divisions of Ukraine. There are 24 oblasts (regions), with each oblast further divided into raions (districts).

The heads of local governments are appointed and dismissed by the President of Ukraine after a nomination by the Cabinet of Ministers[1] and serve as representatives of the central government in Kiev. They govern over locally elected assemblies.[2]


In cities with district divisions, decisions of the local community or the city council may be made at the district level. Executive bodies of villages, townships, city and city-district councils have their executive committees and departments established by the council's executive bodies. The implementation of delegated executive powers is also under the control of the relevant executive bodies.

The village, township, or city mayor is the chief executive of the local community at the village (or association of several villages), town or city level, elected by universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot every four years in the manner prescribed by law. The village or township mayor leads the executive committee of the respective village, township or city council, and presides at its meetings.

Bypassing the local governments is an age-old practice in Ukraine.[3] Ukrainian Prime Ministers and Presidents are frequently asked by individual citizens for help in solving their personal problems (sometimes successfully). In 2012 Prime Minister Mykola Azarov received dozens of personal pleas daily on his Facebook page, while President Viktor Yanukovych received about 10,000 to 12,000 letters with such pleas every month.[3]


Bodies subject to local self-government law may be separate arms of the executive. Executive bodies of villages, townships and city councils have jurisdiction in the following areas:

At meetings of the village, township and city council, the following issues are decided:

  • Makeup of the body's executive committee
  • Local referendums
  • Transfer of funds, logistical and other resources necessary
  • Association with other local bodies
  • Approval of socioeconomic and cultural development, target programs and other issues of local government
  • Approval of local budgets and amendments
  • Approving performance budgeting report
  • Local taxes and duties within the limits set by law
  • Issuance of municipal bonds
  • Providing (in accordance with law) benefits from local taxes and fees
  • Exclusions from the law of public property, approval of local privatization programs and a list of public utilities not subject to privatization
  • Placement of new facilities, considering the scope of environmental impact in accordance with current regulations
  • Territorial structure
  • Laws on land use, ensuring the quality of life
  • Creation of special free and other areas and changes in their status, on the initiative of the President or the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine

The powers of executive bodies of village, township and city councils are autonomous or delegated. Delegated powers include:

  • Monitoring compliance with land and environmental legislation, land use and protection of natural resources at the national and local levels; reforestation
  • Registration of land ownership, land-use lease contracts documenting ownership and right to use land
  • Disaster relief in accordance with law; public notification
  • Defining territory for warehousing, storage or placement of industrial, household and other waste in accordance with law
  • Organization and implementation of land-management projects
  • Preparation and submission of targeted local programs to improve safety, working conditions and the environment, territorial employment programs and protection of different population groups from unemployment
  • Implementation of measures to improve housing and welfare for the disabled, war veterans, victims of political repression, military and former military personnel, families who lost breadwinners, the elderly and children without parental care
  • Granting benefits and assistance for the protection of motherhood and childhood; enforcing legislation on guardianship and custody
  • Representation of citizens who suffered from natural disasters
  • Compensation and benefits to citizens affected by the Chernobyl disaster, as stipulated by law
  • Monitoring of safety for employees in hazardous and dangerous jobs, providing employees benefits and compensation for work in hazardous conditions
  • Provision for free education and health services for all, training opportunities in public schools and in their native language, study of their native language in state educational establishments and through national cultural societies
  • Provision for education and health services, developing and improving the network of educational and medical institutions, physical culture and sport, identifying needs and contracting for training specialists to ensure conformity to legislation governing medicinal products and medical supplies
  • Preventing child neglect
  • Support of orphans and children left without parental care in boarding schools and orphanages, vocational education and maintenance by the state of those with defects in physical or mental development who cannot study in ordinary schools (special education)
  • Protection of historical and cultural monuments, conservation and cultural heritage
  • Promotion of military and alternative (civilian) service, mobilization, preparing young people for service in the Armed Forces of Ukraine
  • Organization and participation in activities related to civil defense
  • Upholding legislative requirements regarding applications, regardless of ownership
  • Upholding laws on the conduct of meetings, protests and demonstrations, sports, entertainment and other events
  • Crime prevention
  • Civil registration


The financial basis of local government consists of movable and immovable property, revenues, other funds, land, natural resources and common property, and is managed by district and regional councils. Territorial communities of villages, towns and cities may unite (on a contractual basis) objects of communal property and budget funds for implementation of joint projects, or to jointly finance (or maintain) communal enterprises, organizations and institutions. The state participates in the revenue of local budgets, financially supporting local self-government. Costs to local government arising from decisions of public authorities are compensated by the state.

Local governments can be legally-separate powers of the executive. The state finances the exercise of these powers in full from the state budget of Ukraine, or (by referring to the local budget, in the manner prescribed by law, certain national taxes) transfers to local governments appropriate objects of state property. Activities of local authorities aim to meet the social needs of citizens and (especially) to obtain essential services. Local budgets are the financial base of local governments; the resources accumulated in these budgets determine how effectively local authorities can carry out their mandate.


Under the Constitution of Ukraine, the term of office of the heads of villages and towns and the council members of these villages and towns is five years.[4][5][nb 1] The last nationwide local election was held in 2015.[7]

Rural township councils are elected by a majority in single-member constituencies, which divide territory under the village level. Municipal councils are elected by a proportional system: members are elected from electoral lists of candidates. District councils in cities are also elected by a proportional system. Elections at the village and township levels are by a majority electoral system.

Ukrainian citizens who belong to the relevant local community and are entitled to vote may do so in national (or Crimean), regional, district, city-district or local elections and fully participate in political life (including election campaigns and observing elections), as determined by the laws of Ukraine.

Composition of village, township, city, city-district, district and regional councils should be:

  • Under 1,000 population: 12–15 members
  • 1,000–3,000: 16–26 members
  • 3,000–5,000: 20–30 members
  • 5,000–20,000: 30–36 members
  • 20,000–50,000: 30–46 members
  • 50,000–100,000: 36–50 members
  • 100,000–250,000: 40–60 members
  • 250,000–500,000: 50–76 members
  • 500,000–1,000,000: 60–90 members
  • 1,000,000–2,000,000: 76–120 members
  • Over 2,000,000: 76–150 members

The right to nominate candidates is implemented through local voters of the parties (blocks) or by self, as provided by law.


Regional and district councils are local authorities which represent the common interests of villages and towns within the powers specified in the Constitution of Ukraine, other laws and powers transferred to them by rural, town and city councils. At plenary sessions of the district and regional councils, the following issues are decided:

  • Holding a referendum on issues affecting their common interests
  • Holding national referendums and national and local elections
  • Approval of socioeconomic and cultural development of the region, and hearing reports on their implementation
  • Approval of district and regional budgets and their amendments
  • Monitoring state-budget allocations
  • Management of common property
  • Administrative and territorial structure, within the procedure established by law
  • Electing (and dismissing) a chairman and deputy chairman
  • Approval of executive-council staff

The District Chairman is elected from among its members during the term of the council by secret ballot, and serves until a new chairman is elected. The chairman is accountable to the council; they may be dismissed from office by a two-thirds majority of the council in a secret ballot. Regional and district councils do not form their own executive bodies, since appropriate powers delegated by their regional and district state administrations.

The organizational, legal, informational, analytical and logistical activities of the council and its agencies provide staff for council members. It contributes interaction and relationships with local communities, local authorities, bodies and officials of local governments. The ex officio chairman heads the council.

Executive power in oblasts, districts and the cities of Kiev and Sevastopol is exercised by local administrations. The organization, powers and procedures of local public administrations is defined by the Law of Ukraine "On local state administrations" of April 9, 1999 № 586-XIV. The exercise of executive power in Kiev and Sevastopol are determined by special laws. The composition of local state administrations is formed by the head of local state administrations, who are appointed and dismissed by the President of Ukraine upon submission to the Cabinet of Ministers.

State administrations ensure:

  • Implementation of the Constitution and laws of Ukraine, acts of the President of Ukraine, Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and other bodies of executive power
  • Law and order, the rights and freedoms of citizens
  • National and regional socioeconomic and cultural development, environmental protection programs and (in areas with indigenous peoples and national minorities) programs for national and cultural development
  • Preparation and implementation of regional and district budgets
  • Report on the implementation of budgets and programs
  • Cooperation with local governments
  • Cooperation with other states and their respective councils

The heads of local state administrations are accountable to the President of Ukraine and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. As part of the authority delegated to them by the relevant district or regional councils, local state administrations are accountable to and controlled by councils. Decisions by heads of local state administrations that contravene the Constitution and laws of Ukraine or other legislative acts of Ukraine may be revoked according to law by the President of Ukraine or a head of higher-level local administration. Regional or district councils may adopt a motion of no confidence in the head of the respective local state administration until the President of Ukraine takes decision and makes a reasoned response. If no confidence in the head of a district or regional state administration is expressed by two-thirds of the deputies to a council, the president of Ukraine decides whether or not to accept their resignation.

Election of members of district councils are by the proportional system: deputies elected from the electoral lists of political parties (or electoral blocs of political parties in the larger constituency). Election of deputies to regional councils and Kiev and Sevastopol also use the proportional system.


The representative body of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (ARC) is the Supreme Council. Parliament within its authority adopts decisions and resolutions which are binding in the ARC. The government of the ARC is the Council of Ministers. The chairman of the Council of Ministers is appointed and dismissed by the Verkhovna Rada of the ARC with the consent of the President of Ukraine. The powers, procedure and activities of the Supreme Council and the Council of Ministers are determined by the constitution and laws of Ukraine and legal acts of the Verkhovna Rada of the ARC.

The ARC regulates:

  • Agriculture and forestry
  • Reclamation and mining
  • Public works, crafts, trades and charity
  • Urban development and housing
  • Tourism, hotel business and fairs
  • Museums, libraries, theaters and other cultural institutions; historic and cultural reserves
  • Public transportation, roads and water supply
  • Hunting and fishing
  • Health and hospital services

Political activity regulated by the ARC includes:

  • Election of deputies to the Verkhovna Rada of the ARC and the approval of the election commission
  • Organizing and conducting local referendums
  • Managing property belonging to the ARC
  • Development, approval and execution of the ARC on the basis of the uniform tax and budget policy of Ukraine
  • Development, approval and implementation of ARC programs for socioeconomic and cultural development of environmental management and protection (according to national programs)
  • Recognition of the status of localities as resorts; establishment of resort sanitary-protection zones
  • Ensuring the rights and freedoms of citizens and national harmony; promotion of order and public security
  • Maintenance and development of state and national languages and cultures in the ARC; protection and use of historical monuments
  • Participation in the development and implementation of state programs for the return of deported peoples
  • Initiating a state of emergency and establishing zones of emergency in the ARC

The laws of the ARC can also be delegated to the president of the Ukrainian delegation, whose status is determined by the law of Ukraine.

To ensure the implementation of common socioeconomic and cultural programs of local communities, the budgets of the ARC and the oblasts are derived from the following payments:

  • A 25-percent tax on personal income, paid in compliance with the Law of Ukraine "On income tax individuals on their respective territory"
  • A 25-percent tax on rents, paid in compliance with the Law of Ukraine "On income tax of individuals in the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the corresponding region"
  • Fees for licenses to conduct certain types of business and certificates issued by the Council of Ministers of the ARC and regional state administrations

To ensure the implementation of common socioeconomic and cultural programs of local communities, district budgets are taken into account when determining the scope of intergovernmental transfers:

  • A 50-percent tax on personal income, transferred in compliance with the Law of Ukraine "On income tax of individuals" in villages, cities of regional importance and their associations
  • 15 percent of payments for land, paid in villages, cities of regional importance and their associations
  • Fees for licenses to conduct certain types of business and certificates issued by district administrations
  • Payment for state registration of business entities, transferred in compliance with the Law of Ukraine "On income tax of individuals" to district administrations
  • Administrative fines imposed by district administrations

In addition, a base of regional and districts of the ARC is formed from transfers from the state budget and other government agencies.


Kievan Rus'[edit]

Main article: Kievan Rus'

Self-government in Ukraine had its roots in Kievan Rus'; local territorial neighborhoods originated in the ancient Slavic community. This community arranged its affairs independently, with available resources. In Kievan Rus', the government was based on production and geographical location: the community of merchants and artisans on the territorial basis of rural, urban and regional communities. The territorial government developed on the basis of common law. Rural communities united village people; the villages owned land to represent its members in relations with other communities, feudal lords and the government. Local government continued when Ukraine was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

Magdeburg rights[edit]

Main article: Magdeburg rights

In medieval Ukraine, political and legal status were divided into public, private and church. There was a state administration headed by a mayor who provided defense and collected taxes. Urban communities were represented by a Vogt. The Vogt defended the interests of the community before feudal lords (sometimes in court) by the end of the 13th century.

During the 13th century, Ukrainian cities began implementing Magdeburg (German) law. The first extant written account on the provision of German law dates only to 1339, but it can be assumed that German law was actually in use in the kingdom of Galicia-Volhynia since the end of the 13th century. At the end of 14th century, Ukrainian cities were awarded to Lithuanian princes by the German government. In 1374 this law was received in Kamyanyets and Podolia (along with Brest and a number of other cities). At the end of the 15th century, Kiev was under Magdeburg law.

The scope of Magdeburg law involved the release of the urban population from government from without. The burghers were a community with their own justice, laws and elected council. Their jurisdiction included guild artisans and farmers living in the city. Providing the city with Magdeburg law meant the elimination of power over its citizens from feudal rulers and administrators. Municipal government involved the right of citizens to elect a council for a term of one year. The council, headed by the city burgomaster managed all economic affairs of the community. Magdeburg law also involved the election for life of judges, headed by a Vogt. The Vogt, usually appointed by the king, was the highest official of the city. Kiev received Magdeburg rights; its people could own land and collect taxes.

The Ukrainian urban population was eager to participate in local government. After battling Cossacks from the Polish army in Zboriv in the Khmelnytsky Uprising, the Poles signed a peace treaty in late 1649 which involved the right of Orthodox burghers in municipal governments.

During the Cossack Hetmanate "from the jurisdiction of the colonels were taken that were government, based on the Magdeburg Law, confirmed by royal charter". These cities received considerable property in the form of fields and forests. Local government taxes were collected from imported goods, artisans, inns, yards, baths, mills, brewers and bridges. Local government during the 18th and 19th centuries consisted of the zemstvo. From 1764–1783 the Hetmanate (and Magdeburg rights) was eliminated in Ukraine. In 1785, Empress Catherine II decreed the formation of local government bodies in the country, marking the unification of social life between Russia and Ukraine.

In 1796, Emperor Paul I tried (and failed) to restore Magdeburg law in Ukraine. In 1831, a royal decree opposed Magdeburg rights; in a decree from Tsar Nicholas I on December 23, 1834, Magdeburg Law was abolished in Kiev. Ukraine then formed a local government; in 1838, Nicholas introduced local self-government for peasants and free workers.

An impact on local life in Ukraine was made by Alexander II in 1864. In the European part of the Russian Empire (including Sloboda Ukraine), his decree regulated township committees consisting of nobility, a mayor and officials from the state property office of free peasants. Voters were divided into three groups:

  • Landlords
  • Property owners in the city
  • Rural society

Two elections were held: the first for landowners and the second for homeowners, manufacturers, traders and others. Persons excluded from voting included:

  • Those under 25 years
  • Those tried and acquitted by the court
  • Persons removed from office
  • Those under investigation
  • Persons excluded from the church

Elections for peasant representatives were multilevel. Representatives were elected for three years. The local government was responsible for:

  • Maintenance of roads, bridges and transportation
  • Law-enforcement buildings
  • Brokerage offices
  • Rural affairs
  • Statistics
  • Development of trade and industry

The main source of income was taxation, some of which was used for education. On June 16, 1870, Alexander II granted suffrage to all Russian citizens older than 25 who owned property. However, the clergy, peasants, some farmers and Jews were unable to vote.

Similar patterns in the second half of the 19th and early 20th century took place in Galicia, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Local government there was founded on the principles of Austrian law in the community since March 5, 1861, which established the principles for local self-government in the empire. Galicia was crown land in the Austrian Empire, and the Galician Diet on August 12, 1866 adopted the law for Galicia (which included the election ordinance).

Early 20th century[edit]

After the February Revolution in Russia and the formation of the Central Council of Ukraine Mykhailo Hrushevskyi, in his 1917 pamphlet "Free Ukraine", proposed in the first phase of an independent Ukrainian state to organize local authorities (based on committees) in districts and cities. Committees were formed on the principles of the Central Council to keep their value as development and organization in the city led to self-government.

The Central Council, on June 23, 1917, recognized the existing system of local government. The Declaration of the General Secretariat on July 10, 1917 stressed:

... The village, town and Township administrative bodies, small business, county commissioners, horodski thoughts, provincial commissioners, in a word, the whole organization of government may be in organic connection with the Central Council only when democracy that forms the bodies, is also in close connection with the Central Council.

The Declaration of the General Secretariat of October 12, 1917 states that:

... One of the main objectives of its General Secretariat puts promote the development of local self-government and the spread of their competence. It has become the main condition set down in Ukraine.

The Third Universal Central Council, published in November 1917, states:

General secretary of the Interior attribute: take all measures to consolidate and distribution rights of the local governments that are the highest administrative bodies of local authorities and to establish the closest connection and its cooperation with the revolutionary democracy, which should be the best basis for a free democratic life.

Consequently, the Central Council strongly emphasized its commitment to the Institute for Local Government. A clarification of local government in the Ukrainian People's Republic (UPR) was provided by its constitution, adopted April 29, 1918. The system of local government would have:

Not a single violation of its authorities, the UPR provides the land, town and communities rights wide self forth the principle of decentralization.

However, during the Ukrainian War of Independence these intentions were not realized. Pavlo Skoropadskyi, who became head of government April 29, 1918, dissolved the local government created by the Central Council and installed atamans in Kiev and Odessa. Secretary of State I. Kistyakivskyy, in a speech at the congress of provincial stewards, said that in the experience of revolution, "local government, built on electoral law, reduced the local economy and returned a healthy economic life of cities and districts in the fight against political programs". At the end of the Skoropadskyi regime, the zemstvo chiefs and established county councils were active in rural affairs. However, the idea of a broad government revived late in the UPR during 1920, when the new constitution of the UPR offered a system of communities, municipalities and counties.

Soviet and post-Soviet systems[edit]

The revival of local government in Ukraine (in the broadest sense) dates to the election of deputies to the Verkhovna Rada of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and local councils in March 1990. Although these elections of local councils throughout Ukraine remained communist (the majority of deputies were members of the Communist Party), in some cities and regions local councils were no longer communist, or had a membership belonging to democratic parliamentary groups.

In 1990, the Communist Party played a major role in the organization and activities of the authorities. At each level of administrative and territorial structure, all heads of councils or executive committees had to belong to the party.

From December 1990 to 1992, the first version of the law on local councils of deputies of the Ukrainian SSR and local government was in place. The Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine, adopted July 16, 1990, declared that power should be based on its division among legislative, executive and judicial. Real power-sharing began with the introduction of the post of President of Ukraine. After the presidential elections of December 1, 1991, amendments were made to the Constitution and legislation corrected. In February and March 1992, laws were adopted on the President and local and regional governments. The new version of the Law on Local Self-Government was adopted March 26, 1992, and took into account the transfer of powers from regional and district councils to the president; the district and regional level of people's deputies were removed from power. Self-government functioned only at the village level. A first edition of the law "On local council deputies and local government" eliminated "Soviet dolls"; the institution of president eliminated the Soviet model of government and created a system which combines the principle of regional governance with broad, independent action of citizens in their localities through local government.

In the event that local government units in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of eastern Ukraine do not exercise their constitutionally guaranteed powers due to the War in Donbass, civil–military administrations are appointed by the president in order to carry out the functions of local government in those specific territories.[8]


  1. ^ In the 2010 Ukrainian local elections four years was set for the office of the heads of villages and towns and the council members of these villages and towns.[4][6]


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