Verkhovna Rada

Verkhovna Rada

Coordinates: 50°26′50.3″N 30°32′12.6″E / 50.447306°N 30.536833°E / 50.447306; 30.536833

Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine
Верховна Рада України
Coat of arms or logo
Type Unicameral
Chairman Volodymyr Lytvyn[1], People's Party
since December 9, 2008[2]
First deputy Chairman Adam Martynyuk[1], Communist Party of Ukraine
since May 11, 2010[3]
Deputy Chairman Mykola Tomenko[1], All-Ukrainian Union "Fatherland"
since September 2, 2008[4]
Members 450
Political groups Party of Regions (193)
Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc (103)
Our Ukraine–People's Self-Defense Bloc (66)
Communist Party (25)
Lytvyn Bloc (20)
Reforms for the Future (20)
Independents (23)[5]
Last election 30 September 2007
Meeting place
Verkhovna Rada main session hall.jpg
Sessions Chamber, Verkhovna Rada building, Kiev

The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (Ukrainian: Верховна Рада України (English: Supreme Council of Ukraine)) is Ukraine's parliament. The Verkhovna Rada is a unicameral parliament composed of 450 deputies, which is presided over by a chairman (speaker). It meets in the Verkhovna Rada building in Ukraine's capital Kiev.

The Verkhovna Rada was first established in 1938 as the national parliament of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic after the reorganization of Central Executive Committee of Ukrainian SSR. Since then, 17 convocations (sessions) of the Verkhovna Rada were held. The Verkhovna Rada of the 14th convocation officially changed the numbering of sessions, proclaiming itself the Verkhovna Rada of the third convocation. The sixth convocation is the latest convocation of the parliament.

In the Verkhovna Rada elections, the seats are divided among all parties that achieved a minimum 3% nationwide vote tally, using the Hamilton method of apportionment.[6] The latest elections to the Verkhovna Rada were held on September 30, 2007. On October 8, 2008, President Viktor Yushchenko dissolved the parliament and called early elections, however these never took place.[7]



The name Rada (Ukrainian: Рада) means "council". It originated in medieval Rus', and in the 10th century represented a boyar council.[8] It was also used by Dnieper Cossacks in the 17th and 18th centuries for the meetings where major decisions were made and new councils were elected by popular vote.[9]

This name was later used by the Ukrainian Revolutionary government between March 17, 1917 and April 29, 1918 (Central Rada).[10]

Verkhovna, is the feminine form of the adjective "верховний" meaning supreme. It is derived from the Ukrainian word "верх" meaning "top".


Soviet period (1938–1990)

The Rada replaced the All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets as the Supreme Body of State Power according to the Constitution of Ukrainian SSR of 1937. The Congress of Soviets was initiated by the Central Executive Committee, also known as TsIKUK, TsVK, or VUTsVK. The last chairman of the TsVK was Hryhoriy Petrovsky.

The first elections to the Verkhovna Rada of the Ukrainian SSR took place on June 26, 1938. The first session of the parliament took place in Kiev on July 25 through 28, 1938. The first Chairman of the Rada was elected Mykhailo Burmystenko who later perished during World War II. There also was created a presidium of the Rada that was headed by Leonid Korniyets (July 27, 1938).

During the war the presidium was evacuated to the city of Saratov. On June 29, 1943 the presidium issued the order to postpone the elections to the new convocation for a year while extending the obligations of the first elected convocation. On January 8, 1944 the Cabinet Ministers of Ukrainian SSR in agreement with the Communist Party decided to relocate the presidium of Verkhovna Rada from Kharkiv back to Kiev. The new elections were scheduled on February 9, 1947.

Post-Soviet period

The first real election to select deputies to the Verkhovna Rada was held March 1990.[11] Although the Communist Party still remained in control, a so-called "Democratic Bloc" was formed by numerous parties, including People's Movement of Ukraine (Rukh), Helsinki Watch Committee of Ukraine, Party of Greens of Ukraine, and many others.[11]

The Verkhovna Rada of Ukrainian SSR of the twelfth convocation proclaimed the state sovereignty of Ukraine on July 16, 1990, and declared Ukraine's independence and the creation of the Ukrainian State on August 24, 1991, at approximately 6 p.m. local time.[12] At the time, the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada was Leonid Kravchuk. The Act of Ukrainian Independence was overwhelmingly supported in a national referendum held on December 1, 1991.

The Constitution of Ukraine[13] was adopted by the Verkhovna Rada of the thirteenth convocation on June 28, 1996, at approximately 9 a.m. local time. The parliament's fourteenth convocation officially changed the numbering of the convocations proclaiming itself the Verkhovna Rada of the third convocation. After the Orange Revolution, a set of amendments were adopted to the constitution on December 8, 2004,[14] by the Verkhovna Rada of the fourth (fifteenth) convocation. On October 1, 2010 the Constitutional Court of Ukraine overturned the 2004 Constitutional Amendments, considering them unconstitutional.[15][16]

In January 2009 the Verkhovna Rada deputies trimmed their financing by 118 million hryvnias, compared with the year 2008 (amid statements of lawmakers about the necessity triming the expendure of government to fight the current economic crises of Ukraine). At first the parliament trimmed on details but later, under the pressure of government, lawmakers also trimmed their salaries. However mid-June Ukrainian newspaper DELO reviled that during a voting on the law on changes in the state budget-2009 (which proposed to finance providing those ill with diabetes with insulin at the expense of the increased excise duty on beer) Verkhovna Rada deputies introduced an amendment into the law and increased the Verkhovna Rada’s budget by 97 million hryvnias this way[17] (as made public by Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc faction member Oleh Liashko).[18][19] President Viktor Yuschenko vetoed the law on June 18, 2009. The president stated that the 100 million hryvnias from the excise should be given to the health care sector instead of the parliament's own expenditures.[18]

The Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc faction intended to initiate the abolishment of parliamentary immunity in September 2009 without result.[20]

Fights and incidents

Brawls are not unusual in the Ukrainian parliament.[21][22][23][24][25][26] On several occasions work in parliament was blocked by sit-ins by various parties.[23][27][28][29][30][31] Recent incidents include the disorder of April 27, 2010, after the parliament ratified the treaty that extended Russia’s Black Sea Fleet lease in the Crimean port of Sevastopol until 2042, when parliament speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn had to be shielded by umbrellas as he was pelted with eggs, while smoke bombs exploded and politicians brawled.[32][33] Another major incident occurred on December 16, 2010 when several Rada members where admitted to hospital after Party of Regions politicians stormed the parliament podium, which was occupied by the Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko faction.[23][34][35]

A microphone throwing championship among MPs, organized by the Kyiv independent media trade union, was held outside the building of the Verkhovna Rada on Friday, September 11, 2009 in response to an incident on September 1, 2009 when an Communist MP snatched a microphone from a STB reporter and threw it downstairs. Several MPs participated.[36]

On May 13, 2010 Lytvyn asked lawmakers to work in the session hall and not to read newspapers there.[37]


The Verkhovna Rada building sits adjacent to the Mariyinsky Palace (right), the official residence of the President of Ukraine.

The Verkhovna Rada meets in a neo-classical building on Kiev's Hrushevsky Street. The building adjoins a picturesque park and the 18th century Mariyinsky Palace, designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli, which serves as the official residence of the President of Ukraine.

After the transfer of the capital of the Ukrainian SSR from Kharkiv to Kiev in 1934, a whole set of government buildings was planned for the city.[38] In 1936, a contest for the construction of the new parliament building was won by architect Volodymyr Zabolotny.

Construction for the original building was done from 1936-38. Having been destroyed in the Second World War, the building was reconstructed in its original style in 1945-1947, with the glass dome being rebuilt one metre higher than the original one.[38]

Mission and authority


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view · legislative power in Ukraine. The parliament determines the principles of domestic and foreign policy, introduces amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine, adopts laws, approves the state budget, designates elections of the President of Ukraine, impeaches the president, declares war and peace, appoints the Prime Minister of Ukraine, appoints or approves appointment of certain officials, appoints one-third of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, elects judges for permanent terms, ratifies and denounces international treaties, and exercises certain control functions.[39]

Voting for other deputies is prohibited by law.[40] Deputies have stated they could not have taken part in votes although their votes were registered in parliament.[40][41] A bill on introducing voting of lawmakers with help of a touch-sensitive key was not passed in mid-March 2011.[42] In April 2011 a vote of a deputy was registered although the man had died four days before the voting.[43][44]

Oath of office

Before assuming office, the Verkhovna Rada's deputies must take the following oath before the parliament:

In original Ukrainian:

Присягаю на вірність Україні. Зобов'язуюсь усіма своїми діями боронити суверенітет і незалежність України, дбати про благо Вітчизни і добробут Українського народу.
Присягаю додержуватися Конституції України та законів України, виконувати свої обов'язки в інтересах усіх співвітчизників.[45]

In English translation:

I swear allegiance to Ukraine. I commit myself with all my deeds to protect the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, to provide for the good of the Motherland and for the welfare of the Ukrainian people.
I swear to abide by the Constitution of Ukraine and the laws of Ukraine, to carry out my duties in the interests of all compatriots.[46]

When the work of the parliament is blocked during plenary meetings wages are not credited to deputies.[47]


The Verkhovna Rada is a unicameral legislature with 450 national deputies (Ukrainian: народний депутат) elected on the basis of equal and direct universal suffrage through a secret ballot.


The presidium of Verkhovna Rada was elected at the very first sessions of each convocation. Originally it consisted of a chairman, couple of the chairman's deputies, a secretary, and 19 other members. Later composition of the presidium changed. The presidium was regulated by the Statute 106 of the Constitution of Ukraine (1978).

Parliamentary factions, groups, and parties

Only 15 or more deputies can form a parliamentary faction, a lawmaker can join only one faction (the chairman and his two assistants cannot head factions of deputies).[16][48] Deputies who are expelled from factions or decide to leave them become individual lawmakers; individual deputies are allowed to unite into parliamentary groups of people's deputies then again at least 15 deputies are required for the formation of such groups.[16][48] Several influential parties have been founded after they had already founded a faction in the Verkhovna Rada, examples of this are the Party of Regions, All-Ukrainian Union "Fatherland" and Labour Ukraine.[49][50][51][52]

Currently, six parties and blocs are represented in the Verkhovna Rada[5]: the Party of Regions,[53] the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc (BYuT),[54] the Our Ukraine–People's Self-Defense Bloc (OU-PSD),[55] the Communist Party of Ukraine (CPU),[56] and the Lytvyn Bloc.[57] On November 16, 2010 the ByuT faction was officially renamed “Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko-Batkivschyna”.[58] Three days later the Lytvyn Bloc faction was officially renamed People's Party faction.[59] On February 16, 2011 a new parliamentary faction Reforms for the Future was created.[60]

Each parliamentary faction or group is headed by its leader. Parliamentarians may become unaffiliated from the initially elected faction and realigned under a different parliamentary group or defecting into another faction. In 2000s in Verkhovna Rada has formed three major camps: Social-Nationalistic, Big business conservative, and small third parties (often Communist-oriented). The Social-Nationalistic camp was composed out of small National-Democratic parties and the Social-Democratic BYuT; the Big business conservative camp was represented by a single party, the Party of Regions; other smaller "third parties" were mostly left-wing oriented or pro-agrarian choosing to be associated with either of bigger factions. Recently there has established a term for such lawmakers - "tushky" which is a sort of derogatory word meaning "bodies". The term is applied to independent members of parliament who unaffiliated themselves after being initially elected to the parliament through a certain parliamentary faction.

Women make up 8.5 percent of the parliament compared to an average of 30 percent in Europe.[61] Several millionaires are member of Rada factions.[62][63][64][65][66][67][67][68][69][70][71]

14 Rada lawmakers missed all 51 parliament sessions in 2010.[70]


According to the "Law of Ukraine about elections of national deputies of Ukraine"[72] a national deputy may become a citizen of Ukraine who on the day of elections a) reached 21 years of age; b) has the right to vote; c) resided in Ukraine for the last five years.

Verkhovna Rada deputies have the right to free transportation, free use of the hall of official delegations, free housing, free medical services and free vacations at health spas.[73][74] The Ukrainian President, Prime Minister, members of the government and the Verkhovna Rada deputies also have parliamentary immunity[75](law enforcement also cannot search their homes or follow them.[76]). During the Orange Revolution[76] and the campaign for the 2007 parliamentary election Party of Regions, OU-PSD and BYuT all promised to strip lawmakers of there parliamentary immunity.[75] June 2008 the parliament failed to adopt the bill on restriction of privileges for deputies and introduction of imperative mandate. 192 people's deputies voted "for" the bill submitted by the BYuT faction out of 436 deputies registered in the session hall. The factions of the opposition Party of Regions, as well as the CPU and the Lytvyn Bloc voted against, the OU-PSD faction voted partially "for" and the BYUT faction voted (fully) "for". A proposal to send the bill for the first reading for the second time did also not find support.[73] In May 2009 the second Tymoshenko Government approved a bill amending the law on the status of a people's deputies of Ukraine, this bill reduces certain privileges for incumbent deputies and former deputies.[77]

The deputies possess full personal legal immunity during the term of office.[78] On the one hand, this may help certain individuals avoid criminal responsibility; on the other hand, the immunity serves as a guarantee for the existence of political opposition. In cases of egregious malfeasance, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine or the Head of the Supreme Court of Ukraine can request that a deputy's immunity be revoked; the decision whether to revoke is up to the Verkhovna Rada. Deputies can also tend in there resignation themselves.[79][80]

As of March 25, 2010 no deputy's immunity or their privileges were revoked.[81][82] Individual deputies can be stripped of their immunity if a bill to strip their rights is passed by the Verkhovna Rada.[76]

Speakers and vice-speakers

Volodymyr Lytvyn, current Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of the 6th convocation.

The parliament elects from among its ranks the Chairman (Speaker; Ukrainian: Голова Верховної Ради), the First Deputy Chairman, and the Deputy Chairman.[1]

Before the Chairman of a newly convoked Rada is elected, parliamentary sessions are presided over by members of a temporary presidium of the first session (Ukrainian: тимчасова президія першої сесії). The temporary presidium is composed of five deputies, representing the four largest parliamentary fractions plus the chairman of a preparatory deputy group of the first parliamentary session, however the Rada may enact an ad hoc deviation from this composition rule.

The Chairman presides over parliamentary sessions, signs bills and sends them to the President for promulgation, signs and promulgates parliamentary acts (other than bills), organises staff work, etc.[83] The chairman is also allowed to call special sessions of parliament,[84] enact bills vetoed by the president only when the Verkhovna Rada votes to overcome the veto by a two-thirds majority, and participate in meetings of the National Security and Defence Council.[85]

In case the post of the President of Ukraine becomes vacant, the Chairman of the Rada becomes acting head of state with limited authority.[86] For instance, the acting president cannot dissolve the parliament, appoint or submit for parliamentary approval candidates for many key official posts, grant military ranks or state orders, or exercise the right of pardon.[86] The Constitution and Ukrainian legislation contain no provisions for presidential succession in case the posts of President and Chairman of the Rada are both vacant.

Office of Ombudsman

The Office of Ombudsman at the Verkhovna Rada was established in 1998 since then was headed by Nina Karpachova. The office has its own secretariat and advising council.


Verkhovna Rada has many parliamentary committees composed of various deputies. The sixth session of the council (2007–2012) had 28 committees among the most popular were the Budget Committee, the Special Control Commission of Verkhovna Rada in Privatization, and the Committee in Transportation and Communications. There are no permanent or standing committees, but most of committees are being reformed from one convocation to another. One of the most important is the Verkhovna Rada committee on Budget.

Ukrainian PACE delegation

Ukraine was accepted as a full member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in 1995.

It is represented there by the parliamentary delegation of Verkhovna Rada consisting of 12 representatives including the chairperson of delegation and the vice-chairperson and their 12 substitutes; in total, 24 members. Ukrainian delegation also has its own permanent secretariat of four members that assist in the inter-parliamentary relationships between PACE and Verkhovna Rada. The current chairperson of the delegation is Mr. Ivan Popescu (PR), while Mrs. Olha Herasymiyuk (OU) is the vice-chairperson. For the full list of members, refer to the PACE main website at


Dramatic political developments in Ukraine have caused repeated changes of the parliamentary electoral system. Each convocation of the Verkhovna Rada has been elected under a different set of laws (gradually evolving from the purely majoritarian scheme of the Soviet era to a purely proportional scheme, effective in 2006 under the transitional provisions of the constitutional amendments).

In the 1990 and 1994 elections, all 450 MPs were elected by majority voting. At the time, Ukraine was divided in 450 electoral districts. Each district sent 1 MP to parliament. In order to win the election, a candidate needed more than 50% of the votes. If no candidate had 50%, then the two candidates with the most votes ran in a second round.

In the 1998 and 2002 elections, 225 MPs were elected by majority voting as earlier (with the exception, that the candidate needed only a simple majority to win). Another 225 MPs were elected on a proportional basis. These seats were divided between the parties who obtained 4% or greater support in the general election.

From the 2006 election and onward, all deputies were elected on a proportional basis. All seats were divided between the parties that obtained 3% or more support of voters. For the 2007 election, the threshold percentage was not changed, but some amendments to the election process were made.

The top six parties' results of the latest election (2007).

Latest election

On April 2, 2007, Viktor Yushchenko, the President of Ukraine, dissolved parliament and signed the presidential decree ordering early parliamentary elections in Ukraine to be held on May 27, 2007, which later triggered a political crisis.[87][88] However, the election was later postponed to June 24, 2007.[89] The Rada has called this decree unconstitutional, prevented funds allocation for elections and continued to function.[90]

After more than 1/3 of the deputes resigned and the President, Prime Minister and Chairman reached an agreement the election was scheduled on September 30, 2007.[91]

e • d Summary of the 30 September 2007 Verkhovna Rada election results [Full version]
Parties and blocs Votes % Seats +/–
Party of Regions (Партія регіонів) 8,013,895 34.37 175 –11
Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc (Блок Юлії Тимошенко) 7,162,193 30.71 156 +27
Our Ukraine–People's Self-Defense Bloc (Блок Наша Україна–Народна Самооборона)
3,301,282 14.15 72 –9
Communist Party of Ukraine (Комуністична партія України) 1,257,291 5.39 27 +6
Lytvyn Bloc (Блок Литвина) 924,538 3.96 20 +20
Socialist Party of Ukraine (Соціалістична партія України) 668,234 2.86 0 –33
Against all 637,185 2.73
Invalid ballot papers 379,658 1.62
Total (turnout 62.02%) 23,315,257 100 450
Source: Central Election Commission of Ukraine (English)

Factional changes after 2007 election

Numerous MPs have been removed from their original faction after the last election;[5][92] several left their (original) faction to join another fraction in October 2010.[93] In November 2010 the Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko faction was officially renamed “Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko-Batkivschyna”.[58] and the Bloc of Lytvyn faction was renamed People's Party faction.[59] On February 16, 2011 a new parliamentary faction Reforms for the Future was created.[60][94]

Leaders of factions/groups
  • Oleksandr Yefremov (Party of Regions)
  • Ivan Kyrylenko (Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko - Batkivshchyna)
  • Mykola Martynenko (Bloc Our Ukraine)
  • Petro Symonenko (Communist Party of Ukraine)
  • Ihor Sharov (People's Party, formerly Bloc of Volodymyr Lytvyn)
  • Ihor Rybakov (Reforms for the Future)
e • d Fraction changes after the Ukrainian parliamentary election, 2007
Parties and alliances Number of seats on September 30, 2007[95] Number of seats on December 31, 2010[5] Number of seats in October 2011[5] Total loss/gain Green Arrow Up.svg  Red Arrow Down.svg
Party of Regions 175 180 193 Green Arrow Up.svg 18 seats
Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko 156 113 103 Red Arrow Down.svg 53 seats
Our Ukraine–People's Self-Defense Bloc 72 71 66 Red Arrow Down.svg 6 seats
Communist Party of Ukraine 27 25 25 Red Arrow Down.svg 2 seats
Lytvyn Bloc 20 20 20
Reforms for the Future Did not exist[60] Did not exist[60] 20 Green Arrow Up.svg 20 seats
Parliamentarians not members of faction 0 41 23 Green Arrow Up.svg 23 seats

See also

Center for Adaptation of Civil Service to the Standards of EU - public institution established by the Decree of Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine to facilitate administrative reform in Ukraine and to enhance the adaptation of the civil service to the standards of the European Union.


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  72. ^ Про вибори народних депутатів України
  73. ^ a b Verkhovna Rada failed to adopt bill on restriction of privileges for deputies and introduction of imperative mandate, National Radio Company of Ukraine (June 18, 2008)
  74. ^ Future generations in debt, Kyiv Post (September 24, 2009)
  75. ^ a b Official Immunity Turns Into Campaign Issue In Ukraine, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (August 16, 2007 )
  76. ^ a b c Case of fugitive ex-deputy, a murder suspect, heats up immunity debate, Kyiv Post (July 9, 2009)
  77. ^ Government suggests canceling certain privileges for Memebres of the Parliament, Kyiv Post (May 27, 2009)
  78. ^ "Article 80". Wikisource. Retrieved 2007-10-11. 
  79. ^ The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine passed Several Resolutions on Early Termination of Authorities of the People's Deputies of Ukraine, Verkhovna Rada official website (February 4, 2011)
  80. ^ "Article 81". Wikisource. Retrieved 2007-10-11. 
  81. ^ Jackpot, Kyiv Post (March 25, 2010)
  82. ^ Tymoshenko says her bloc will soon propose cancellation of deputy immunity, Kyiv Post (August 22, 2009)
  83. ^ "Article 88". Wikisource. Retrieved 2007-10-11. 
  84. ^ "Article 83". Wikisource. Retrieved 2007-10-11. 
  85. ^ "Article 107". Wikisource. Retrieved 2007-10-11. 
  86. ^ a b "Article 112". Wikisource. Retrieved 2007-10-11. 
  87. ^ "President dissolves parliament". Press office of President Victor Yushchenko. 2007-04-02. 
  88. ^ "Yushchenko announces his dismissal of the Verkhovna Rada" (in Ukrainian). 5 Kanal. YouTube. 2007-04-02. 
  89. ^ "Ukraine delays parliamentary poll". ABC News Online. 2007-04-26. 
  90. ^ Laws of Ukraine. Verkhovna Rada decree No. 837-V: Про запобігання діям, що загрожують конституційному правопорядку, громадському спокою і стабільності в Україні. Passed on 2004-04-06. (Ukrainian)
  91. ^ "Results of Yushchenko's meeting: new parliamentary elections will be held on September 30" (in Russian). Korrespondent. 2007-05-27. 
  92. ^ BYuT-Batkivschyna parliament faction expels 28 members, Kyiv Post (September 21, 2010)
  93. ^ Seven individual MPs join Regions Party faction, Our Ukraine MP joins Lytvyn Bloc
  94. ^ Група "Реформи заради майбутнього" у Верховній Раді України
  95. ^ Central Election Commission of Ukraine

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