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28 Jun. 2024

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Constitution Day 2024: uniqueness and historical significance of the event

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Constitution Day 2024: uniqueness and historical significance of the event

Every year on June 28, all of Ukraine celebrates Constitution Day. Once again, this significant day is being held under martial law due to the Russian attack. Learn more about the history of the Constitution and interesting facts about the main law of Ukraine

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On June 28, we celebrate Constitution Day, one of the most important public holidays. This is the only holiday enshrined in the Constitution itself: "Article 161. The day of the adoption of the Constitution of Ukraine shall be a public holiday - the Constitution Day of Ukraine".

It was on this day in 1996 that the Basic Law was adopted, which enshrined the legal foundations of independent Ukraine, its sovereignty and integrity, and the rights of citizens, and increased the authority of our country in the international arena.

But what laws preceded the modern Constitution for many centuries? And is the Ukrainian Constitution really the first in the world? We will tell you in our today's article.


In the previous article, we told you whether this day will be a day off and how to spend June 28 in Kyiv, enjoying free tours, museums, theater performances, and other cultural events.


"Ruska Pravda" by Yaroslav Mudryi


The roots of the Constitution of Ukraine go back to the times of Kievan Rus. Back in the eleventh century, Yaroslav the Wise created the Rus' Truth, the first known codification of rights based on the laws of Germanic and Anglo-Saxon European countries.

The laws were based on customary law. "The Rus' Pravda covered criminal, inheritance, commercial, and procedural laws.

Yaroslav the Wise emphasized that all people were under the tutelage of the Rus' Pravda, which was to protect the rights to life, health, and property. 



The Constitution of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, created on May 3, 1791, was in effect on the territory of the Right Bank of Ukraine. It was the first constitution in Europe and the second in the world to aim to:

1. Establishment of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth on the principles of the Enlightenment;

2. Strengthening the executive branch on the basis of a hereditary monarchy;

3. Abolition of the principle of unanimous decision-making liberun veto;

4. Expansion of the rights of the burghers and weakening the position of magnates;

5. Abolition of the division of the state into Lithuania and Poland.




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Constitution of Pylyp Orlyk


"Pacts and constitutions of laws and liberties of the Zaporozhian Army..." is considered the first constitution in the modern sense. Unfortunately, it had no legal significance, as the government of Pylyp Orlyk was drafting it in exile in the Moldovan city of Bender after the defeat of Hetman Ivan Mazepa in the Battle of Poltava in 1710.

The Constitution of Pylyp Orlyk is rightly called the first written constitution in Europe. It limited the rights of the hetman, clearly outlined his duties, and even defined the future system of government. Power was divided into legislative, executive, and judicial branches. 

The Hetman could no longer punish on his own initiative or in revenge; decisions were made by the General Court.

There are different opinions among historians as to whether Pylyp Orlyk's Pact of Laws can be considered a constitution in the modern sense of the term. But it was definitely a progressive work that was completely ahead of its time, as the first constitutions in Europe and the United States appeared only seventy years later.



The Constitution of the Ukrainian People's Republic


On its last day of existence, April 29, 1918, the Central Rada adopted the Constitution of the Ukrainian People's Republic. Due to Pavlo Skoropadsky's coup, this set of laws never entered into force.

The UPR Constitution proclaimed the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, equality of rights, and democratic freedoms. The Supreme Legislative Body was recognized as the People's Assembly without the post of president. It also confirmed the right of national minorities in Ukraine to national and personal autonomy, and enshrined the right of national unions to take legislative initiatives.


Constitutions of Soviet rule


During the Soviet era, 4 constitutions were created: 1919, 1929, 1937, and 1978. The latter was in force in Ukraine until 1996. Democratic freedoms, free elections, and human rights were defined on paper, but none of this was actually implemented.

Immediately after the adoption of the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine on July 16, 1990, the creation of a constitutional commission and the formation of a modern version of the country's main document began. Over the years, more than 15 versions of the document have been created, and lengthy discussions and revisions have been conducted.


The modern Constitution of 1996


Mykhailo Syrota is the true father of the Ukrainian Constitution. It was he who was entrusted with the task of presenting all its articles from the rostrum of the Verkhovna Rada on Constitutional Night.

People's Deputy Mykhailo Syrota noted that the struggle was exhausting, and at some points it seemed that everything was hanging in the balance, and there would be no independent legal Ukraine. 

The active phase of work on the final draft of the Constitution lasted for 3 months, with the commission working 13 hours a day, virtually seven days a week. Already in March 1996, the draft was submitted to the Verkhovna Rada for consideration, with more than 6,000 amendments.

О 9. 20 a.m. on June 28, 1996, after a 24-hour marathon of continuous work, the Basic Law of Ukraine was adopted!



President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's greetings on Constitution Day in 2024


In his speech, Volodymyr Zelenskyy emphasized that Putin is striking not only at our land, he is constantly attacking the constitutional rights and freedoms of our compatriots. 

"The Constitution of Ukraine is human-centered. Russia's war against Ukraine is human-centered. Putin strikes not only at our land. Every day he strikes at the constitutional freedoms of Ukrainians. He is shooting and killing our rights, he is attacking the inalienable right to life, development, prosperity, the right to make our own choices, all the rights of our children, all the rights of our people guaranteed by the Constitution of Ukraine. The right of all our people and our country is the right to peace," the President emphasized.

Every day of the Ukrainian resistance is not only a struggle for territories, it is "a struggle for our sovereign rights, for our human rights." Ukrainians are courageously defending the principles by which we lived before the war and which we will follow after the victory. As citizens of Ukraine. An independent, free, successful Ukraine - part of a united Europe, part of the global world.


The first word of our Constitution is Ukraine. Millions of people prove every day that Ukraine really comes first for them. Article 17 of the Constitution of Ukraine emphasizes that the defense of Ukraine is the most important function of the state and the business of the entire Ukrainian people. Millions of Ukrainians follow this article. They are heroes on the front line and true patriots in the rear, working tirelessly to strengthen the state and win.

Unfortunately, Ukrainians have had to change their lives and professions. But we will never change our choice in favor of freedom, independence, and Ukraine!


If you want to support the freedom-loving spirit of Ukrainians who are tirelessly fighting for their rights and principles, join the Victory community with Visit Ukraine. Order merchandise on our website and become an ambassador of Ukraine in the world, and we will transfer part of the proceeds from your purchase to support those affected by the war.


We remind you! Every year, on June 28, Ukraine celebrates Constitution Day, a holiday in honor of the main law of the state. On this occasion, many themed events, exhibitions, and cultural events are planned in the capital. Read more about what excursions to visit in Kyiv this weekend.


Want to know more? Read the latest news and useful materials about Ukraine and the world in the News section.






Daria Rogova, Head of Insurance at Visit Ukraine


When planning a trip to Ukraine, first of all, you need to take care of the appropriate insurance policy, because any foreign insurance automatically terminates after crossing the Ukrainian border. In this case, we recommend that you take out insurance specifically covering military risks, which will cover not only standard medical care/treatment/diagnosis, etc. but also accidents and injuries caused by passive or direct military risks.

You can take out such insurance on the Visit Ukraine website. Follow the link and choose an insurance policy with the appropriate coverage and indemnity amount for the required period.




We recommend purchasing it for a safe and comfortable trip to Ukraine: 


Visit Ukraine Insurance – safe travel in Ukraine (insurance covering military risks);

Visit Ukraine Legal advice – comprehensive legal support on entry to Ukraine;
Visit Ukraine Tickets – bus and train tickets to/from Ukraine;

Visit Ukraine Tours – the largest online database of tours to Ukraine for every taste;

Visit Ukraine Hotels – hotels for a comfortable stay in Ukraine;

Visit Ukraine Merch – patriotic clothing and accessories with worldwide delivery.




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