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Ukraine: New Territorial Division of the Country Initiated

(July 21, 2020) On July 17, 2020, the Verkhovna Rada (legislature) of Ukraine changed the administrative division of the country at the subregional level and approved Resolution No. 3650 of July 15, 2020, on the Creation and Elimination of Districts. With the implementation of the reform, planned before the local elections scheduled for October 25, 2020, the country’s existing 490 administrative districts will be eliminated and 136 newly created and enlarged administrative districts will be established. Although electoral districts are established on the basis of the current administrative division of the country, the Verkhovna Rada’s resolution announcing the elections ordered the National Central Election Commission to adjust the electoral process in consideration of the forthcoming divisional changes.

Under the new resolution, each district should contain no fewer than 150,000 people, and the most remote settlements in each district should be no further than 60 kilometers (90 miles) from the town where the district authorities are to be located. Towns with a population of more than 50,000 can qualify to be new district seats.

According to the government of Ukraine, the reform continues the ongoing decentralization policy aimed at decreasing budget spending, lowering the number of government employees, and eliminating the duplication of services. The goal of the reform is to create more powerful local self-governing bodies and transfer to them many functions currently performed by government institutions.

Along with its positive aspects, however, the reform is likely to produce certain negative social effects as well. It is expected that many current local government employees will lose their jobs; social institutions like hospitals, orphanages, and schools may lose their government status and funding; and it will be much more difficult for people to visit government offices because of the offices’ remote location and poor infrastructure.