Image - The Constitution of Ukraine (book edition).

Constitution (конституція; konstytutsiia). Basic laws prescribing the structure of the state and the mutual relations between citizens and the state. The first constitutional document in Ukrainian history was the Constitution of Bendery, adopted in 1710 by Pylyp Orlyk and other émigré followers of Hetman Ivan Mazepa.

The Ukrainian state that arose in 1917–20 had several constitutions. The structure of the Ukrainian National Republic was defined by several legislative acts—the Universals of the Central Rada and laws of the Ukrainian Central Rada—before the Central Rada adopted the comprehensive document the Constitution of the Ukrainian National Republic on 29 April 1918. The constitution, however, could not be implemented because of Hetman Pavlo Skoropadsky’s coup d'état.

The constitution of Pavlo Skoropadsky’s Hetman government can be found in the hetman’s edict (hramota) and in the Law on the Provisional State Structure of Ukraine. Under the Directory of the Ukrainian National Republic the constitutional acts of the Ukrainian National Republic (UNR) consisted of separate declarations and laws—eg, the Law on the Form of State Rule, which was adopted by the Labor Congress on 28 January 1918. The proposed text of the Fundamental State Law on the Structure of the Ukrainian State, drawn up in May 1920 by the All-Ukrainian National Council in Kamianets-Podilskyi, and the project of the federated structure of the UNR worked out by Otto Eikhelman in 1921 are of great significance for Ukrainian political-juridical thought. In the Western Ukrainian National Republic a series of legislative acts constitutes the contents of the Constitution of the Western Ukrainian National Republic.

In the Ukrainian SSR four constitutions were adopted (1919, 1929, 1937, 1978; see Constitution of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic). They were inspired by or were closely modelled on the Constitution of the Russian SFSR and then of the USSR.

The Constitution of the Czechoslovak Republic of 1920 contained articles on the autonomy of Transcarpathia (Subcarpathian Ruthenia). Constitutional law no. 328 granted wide autonomy to Carpatho-Ukraine in 1938–9. The Constitution of the Carpatho-Ukrainian Republic, which declared its independence on 15 March 1939, is law no 1 of the Diet of Carpatho-Ukraine.

In independent Ukraine, following the 1991 Ukraine’s Declaration of Independence, after extensive deliberations the Supreme Council of Ukraine adopted a European-style Constitution of Ukraine in June 1996.

Taranov, A. Istoriia konstytutsiï Ukraïns'koï Radians'koï Sotsialistychnoï Respubliky (Kyiv 1957)
Pryliuk, Iu. (ed). Konstytutsiini akty Ukraïny, 1917–1920 (Kyiv 1992)
Konstytutsiia Ukraïny (Kyiv 1996)
Sliusarenko, A.; Tomenko, M. (eds). Istoriia ukraïns'koï konstytutsiï (Kyiv 1997)
Wolczuk, K. The Moulding of Ukraine: The Constitutional Politics of State Formation (Budapest—New York 2001)

Vasyl Markus

[This article was updated in 2001.]

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