Four reasons to decommunize Ukrainian laws



We still have the legislation of the Soviet Union remaining in effect

Any state that has just proclaimed its independence faces the problem of lacking its own legislation and is forced to apply the laws that were in force until its independence. For example, all former British colonies took this line having adopted reception statutes on applying the British common law. Ukraine took the similar line having proclaimed the continuation of applying the legislation of the Ukrainian SSR and the USSR on its territory.

At the same time, despite the fact that Ukraine has been an independent state with stable state apparatus for more than 25 years, we still have the legislation of the Soviet Union remaining in effect. This situation can not be considered normal and the reasons are:

The need to respect for human rights. The Constitution of Ukraine guarantees the right of everyone to know their rights and duties. The population should be informed about laws and other regulations defining the rights and duties of citizens. However, is it possible when it comes to the acts of the Soviet era? Definitely not. Even modern electronic databases of Ukrainian legislation do not always contain all regulations adopted during independence. And we can not say much about any kind of databases of the legislation of the Ukrainian SSR and the USSR – in fact, it is impossible and it can not exist. That is why there is a problem of legal uncertainty – there can be a regulatory act, which is still valid, but its content may surprise many people, in archives.

Economic considerations. Legislation of the Soviet period is based on the planned economy and state ownership of the means of production, and therefore contains rules that are not adequate for the market economy and a limited role of the state in it. Moreover, a large number of the Soviet technical acts are significantly behind the modern technologies and science.

Ideology. The modern principles of state regulation (a human as the most important value, freedom of entrepreneurship, democracy, etc.) can not coexist with many values and goals of the Soviet Union. However, although it is incredible, but the fact remains that you can read about the “collective income from self-supporting performance” (Code of Labor Laws of Ukraine), the possibility of detaining a person engaged in petty speculation (that is, small business activities) (Code of Ukraine on Administrative Offenses) or about the achievements of the “victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution in our country” (Housing Code of Ukraine) in the current legislation inherited from the Soviet times.

The excessive legislation. The more unreasonable regulation of activities of a person or business is – the higher costs of its compliance or avoidance within the law are. Therefore, the state should constantly be on the regulatory “diet” limiting own sphere of intervention to only the most important needs. Of course, the largest possibilities to reduce the number of legislative acts are among the acts of the Soviet era.

Modern principles of state regulation can not coexist with many values and goals of the Soviet Union

That is why, a draft law that proposes to suspend the effect of the Soviet legislation on the territory of Ukraine was developed and registered by joint efforts of several people’s deputies of Ukraine and the BRDO Office. The government that registered a similar draft law in the parliament joined our “club of legislative decommunizators” during this year. This aspect provides grounds for cautious optimism – probably, we will be able to separate the Ukrainian legal system from the Soviet past.

However, not everyone likes the idea to abolish the Soviet legislation completely. The main argument of the opponents of decommunization is that sometimes you may face with useful acts of the Soviet era, which should be preserved, so it is necessary to review each act separately and determine its fate on an individual basis.

However, unfortunately, this approach is wrong. First, no one is able to conduct a complete inventory of Soviet legislation. And so, without total abolition, we will be always confident that there are a huge number of Soviet acts, which have not been analyzed and, accordingly, abolished.

Secondly, any attempt to conduct the complete inventory of Soviet legislation and its assessment requires enormous resources, which would be more useful to spend on creating a new, high-quality and effective Ukrainian rather than on reviewing dusty archives of the totalitarian past.

And what to do with useful acts of the Soviet era? The answer is quite simple – to review them and approve useful provisions by Ukrainian legal acts in accordance with the procedure established by law.