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In context of the decentralization reform a new administrative division system was approved in Ukraine in the mid of 2020. 1469 new territorial communities appeared on the map of the country.

To increase the efficiency of public administrations, the system of districts was optimized and instead of 490 “old” districts, 136 “new” districts were formed. Thus, the preconditions were made for an organization of the local elections in October 2020 on a new administrative division.

However since 2014 many settlements in Donetsk and Luhansk regions have been divided by the “contact line”. Due to non-compliance with international standards of security and democratic electoral process, the next and first local elections in October 2020 failed to be held.

On August 8, 2020, the Central Election Commission of Ukraine (CEC) adopted Resolution № 161, which approved a list of communities where local elections cannot be held. It included 10 villages, settlements and city councils of Donetsk region and 8 in the Luhansk region. Territorial communities where no local elections were held got into a legal collapse, as they could not fully exercise local self-government in order to approve the budget, to open accounts in the treasury, etc. 

In January 2021, some employees of the village, settlement, district, and city councils were not paid their salaries, the funding of educational and cultural institutions stopped due to non-payment of utilities, all the important facilities were on the verge of disconnection from gas and heat supply, administrative service centers have closed down, making it impossible to obtain social services, etc.

Decentralization in Ukraine. Problems and opportunities in Donetsk and Luhansk regions

“Such problems are not uncommon and diverse. Not only citizens, but also representatives of local government have questions to which there are no answers. The only positive solution in the current circumstances will be the establishment of civil-military administrations (CMA) in such territories. Therefore, conditions for the creation of the CMA were changed. ”

said Alla Skvortsova, lawyer of the Severodonetsk office of the Right to Protection CF.

Relevant amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On Civil-Military Administrations” entered into force on January 14, 2021. Now it is possible to create a CMA not only if local councils do not fulfill their tasks, but also if the CEC has decided that it is impossible to hold local elections in the community. Now the last word is left to the President of Ukraine as the amended version of the law was sent to him for signature.

UNHCR Ukraine – Aгентство ООН у справах біженців в Україні

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