Representative of President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky in the Verkhovna Rada Ruslan Stefanchuk has said that the most important and urgent changes to the Constitution of Ukraine must be made within coming year. “I think that the most important things should be made in the first year, because this first year we, first, have a lot of support from the people of Ukraine. Secondly, having the worked out mechanisms, we have the opportunity of passing them through the Verkhovna Rada. And, thirdly, we have the opportunity of monitoring how they achieved their goal,” he said in an exclusive interview with Interfax-Ukraine.
Stefanchuk said that the analysis of all recent changes to the Constitution showed that about 20 or even more articles do not have a definitive version. “Today we have come to a situation where we do not have the only true legally interpreted text of the Constitution. This is the result of not thoughtful, not verified and not planned work of the Verkhovna Rada, which today has led to the fact that the state, celebrating Constitution Day, has no single unified text of the Constitution,” he said.
The presidential representative in the Rada also considers it wrong that any reform of the Constitution concerned a change in public authorities, but a question of guarantees of human and civil rights had no standing in the country.
Stefanchuk said that it is necessary to conduct a “functional audit of the state” and clearly define which institution is responsible for what.
The representative of Zelensky in parliament said that the possibility of adopting a new Constitution is still a matter of discussion, and there are different approaches.
A small percentage of Ukrainians are familiar with the contents of the Constitution of Ukraine, according to a survey conducted by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation together with the sociological service of the Razumkov Center for the Center for Political and Legal Reforms. According to the release published on Thursday, almost half of the population (47%) has not read the text of the Constitution and about a third (32%) read only certain sections of it. Only 11% of the population is familiar with all sections. Of those who are acquainted with the contents of the Constitution, half did it in order to know their rights.
Almost half of the respondents (46%) know that, according to the Constitution, the people of Ukraine are the bearers of sovereignty and the source of power in the country, while 34% believe that the president is such a subject, with 8% found it difficult to answer this question.
“The majority of respondents (58%) view the Constitution as a means of securing human rights and freedoms, and at the same time only 17% of respondents believe that it should establish responsibilities for a citizen,” organizers of the survey said.
Among the majority of respondents, the conviction remains that the highest state bodies and officials constantly (38%) or often (43%) violate the Constitution. Among the reasons for the violation of the Constitution, most often mentioned was the neglect of laws and the right of officials (59%).
Almost two thirds of respondents (60%) are convinced that violation of the Constitution is unacceptable under any conditions and only 11% admit that the authority can violate the Basic Law if it contributes to faster decisions that will benefit society. At the same time, 18.5% believe officials can violate the Constitution if the goal is to benefit society.
“In relation to violations of the Constitution, Donbas region is highlighted, where 31% of respondents believe violating the Constitution is warranted if doing so benefits the public interest,” survey organizers said.
More than two thirds of those polled (67%) said the Constitution needs to be changed, with 35% believing this a topical issue that needs to be addressed immediately. Some 32% are sure that such changes are necessary, but only after the situation has stabilized in the country. Only 12% do not see the need to change the Constitution, while 20% don’t have an opinion.
The prevailing view is that an independent body including representatives of various branches of government and independent experts should propose changes to the Constitution. This position was supported by 37% of respondents. Only 18% believe the task should be entrusted to a special agency under the president, with 17% saying a special parliamentary commission should propose the changes. Only 13% said they would entrust the task to scientists and expert organizations of civil society.
If the new Constitution is adopted, the citizens consider the All-Ukrainian referendum as the best way to approve it (41%). Some 24% are ready to entrust this matter to a specially selected body and 19% to parliament.
More than half of citizens (56%) do not trust the Constitutional Court, while 22% of respondents trust the Constitutional Court.
The leader of the Batkivschyna Party, MP Yulia Tymoshenko is convinced that the idea to revise the powers of the president proposed in the draft law initiated by Samopomich contradicts the Constitution. “In my opinion, the bill proposed by Samopomich contradicts the Constitution. In addition, the country was bored with political intrigue, dragging of power and attempts to change the rules during the game. People are waiting for changes in their lives, actions and results,” Tymoshenko said on Facebook. According to her, the powers of the president are clearly defined by the Constitution. And we must allow the elected head of state to do his job, she added.