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Ukraine's Political System

Following the 1996 Constitution, most recently amended in 2014, Ukraine is a unified state, presidential and democratic republic. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how UP can stand for Ukraine.

The head of state, the president, is the real leader of the country, although the prime minister has been given a somewhat stronger position. The president is elected in the general election for five years and can only sit for two consecutive terms. The President is a military commander and heads the National Security and Defense Council. He appoints the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defense and the Foreign Minister, who must be approved by Parliament. The other ministers are appointed by the prime minister. The government is accountable to both the president and parliament.

Legislative power has been added to the elected parliament (Verkhovna Rada), with 450 members. Parliament is elected for four years. Half of the seats are filled following a proportional election where the whole country is one constituency and the parties must get at least five percent of the vote to get a seat in parliament, the other half after majority elections in 225 constituencies distributed across the country. The prime minister must have the support of a majority in parliament. Parliament can also dismiss the president.

The country's politics have been marked by struggles over integration eastwards towards Russia or westwards towards the EU, and about corruption and the dominance of the oligarchs in the economy. The oligarchs are wealthy businessmen who at the same time have great political power and influence over the media. Regional tensions have also been high. In addition, confidence in the political system has been weakened by the abuse of power and the manipulation of elections.

In the fall of 2004, after widespread popular protests called the Orange Revolution, the Supreme Court refused to approve the second round of the presidential election, and Viktor Yushchenko won a clear victory in the re-election. The events were seen as a democratic breakthrough for Ukraine, but the political crisis in 2013–2014 showed that the country's political system is still very unstable. In February 2014, President Viktor Yanukovych was deposed, and in 2014 the Kiev central power lost control of the Crimean Peninsula and parts of the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk during the Ukraine crisis.. After the May 2014 presidential elections and the October 2014 parliamentary elections, some political stability was regained, but the war in the east of the country is still ongoing despite the Minsk agreements.

Administratively

Administratively, Ukraine is divided into the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, 24 provinces (oblast) and the two metropolitan areas of Kiev and Sevastopol. On the lower level there are regions (raion's), cities and smaller localities outside the cities. At the local level, councils are elected in general elections for four years. The councils select leaders, who are at the forefront of local executive agencies. Before the Crimean peninsula was annexed by Russia in 2014, the region had its own constitution. A people-elected parliament elected the Crimean government leader. This was responsible to Parliament, but also had to be approved by the President of Ukraine. The president had his own representative in Crimea.

The status of the Crimean Peninsula is unclear and contested between Ukraine and Russia. The peninsula was annexed by Russian forces in March 2014. On March 16, the people of Crimea voted in a contentious referendum to make the peninsula part of Russia. On March 21, the Russian National Assembly formally decided to incorporate Crimea into Russia. Ukraine has not recognized neither the referendum nor the incorporation, nor has the international community done.

Judiciary

The Supreme General Court is the Supreme Court. At lower levels there are provincial and local courts. The Ukrainian legal system also applies in Crimea. It is a constitutional court of its own. The Constitutional Court has 18 judges, six appointed by the president, six by the Supreme Council and six by the Judicial Assembly of Ukraine. There is a separate Supreme Judicial Council that makes suggestions on appointments and dismissals of judges. Ukraine also has a top mediation court. The prosecuting authority is headed by a general procurator, appointed for five years by the president with the consent of parliament.

Political System of Ukraine

A constitution supplement was passed in June. This meant that the country would not ratify its ICC membership for an interim period of 3 years - and was therefore not subject to the ICC. The War Criminal Court published its preliminary investigation into the situation in the country in November, concluding that the situation in Crimea and Sevastopol was the nature of an international armed conflict between Urkaine and Russia, and that more information also pointed to the existence of an international armed conflict in the areas of it eastern Ukraine.

Media critical of the authorities or accused of being pro-Russian or pro-separatist were subjected to harassment, threats of closure or violence. TV station Inter were repeatedly threatened with closure by the Interior Minister, and in September, 15 masked men unsuccessfully attempted to enter the station, which they accused of being pro-Russian. After the failed intrusion, they instead threw gasoline bombs into the building and set it on fire. The regime routinely imprisoned and condemned regime-critical journalists - or let them murder. In July, journalist Pavel Sheremet was murdered with a car bomb in Kiev. The investigation yielded no results. Likewise, the investigation into the murder of journalist Oles Buzina in 2015 yielded no results. Similar to the persecution of journalists and critical media in Ukraine, pro-Ukrainian journalists and media were persecuted in Crimea and in the separatist controlled areas of the eastern part of the country.

The chocolate king declared in an interview to the German Funke Media Group in February 2017 that he wanted to conduct a referendum on Ukraine's accession to NATO. The country was then part of the NATO Partnership Agreement, but actual accession would further aggravate relations with Russia.

Despite the Minsk II ceasefire agreement, fighting in Donbass continued. Fighting started; ceasefire agreements were negotiated in place to break up quickly thereafter. Both parties were guilty of violations of the Geneva Conventions - both in the form of attacks against combatants and civilians.

 

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