History of city government

From the history of local self-government of Kyiv



Establishment and development of local authorities of Kyiv started from ancient times. Its beginnings deep down to self-government of ancient Slavs, who united in territorial communities, tribes and clans, and used to populate the territory of modern Kyiv. The self-government of territorial community was born from the customary, natural law of free community. Customary law was the basis for the election of community officials and decision of local issues. Unlike its neighbors, Ukrainian territorial community was comparatively autonomous and was guided by customary law, which in complex formed Ukrainian legal system called ‘kopne legislation’. Based upon this legislation, people gathered the Assemblies of communities, elected their leaders, judges and other officials. The source of social and economic self-government laid in public ownership of land, forests and other types of resources. Social formations, which were the predecessors of states, are called Asian formations. Asian production was based on householding activity of territorial community. The development of householding activity of communities and their territorial expansion has further brought to the establishment of States.



Kyiv prince State (up to 882)


With the establishment and development of ancient Kyiv prince State, administration of territorial community has achieved the features of dualism (or dual power): various bodies of local self-government (elected by population) operated simultaneously with local state authorities (assigned by Prince).

In Kyiv, the basis of local self-government laid in community self-government. Officials were elected by people on Councils of citizens. Nevertheless, Prince’s administration in Kyiv was also powerful and headed by legendary Kiy, Ascold and Dyr.


 Kyiv’s Grand State (882-1132; period of 250 years)

In 882 the successors of Ryurik came to power in Kyiv. Ryurik was the leader of Vikings, who were swimming from the Scandinavia to Constantinople via Dnieper. Since 882 to 1132 Kyiv was a capital of Grand ancient Rus’ State, called Kyiv Rus’. It was European monarchic empire, headed by the dynasty of Ryuriks (Grand Kyiv Princes – Oleh, Igor, Olha, Svyatoslav, Volodymyr the Great, Yaroslav the Wise, Volodmyr Monomakh, Mstyslav). The main official post after the Prince was the post of tribune, who carried out the functions of the head of the city. All local affairs and lands, were within his competence. Local self-governmental system has also included judicial system, administration and taxes.

Local communities were the subjects of local self-government. The most significant issues were solved during Councils. They included the questions of war and peace, participated in formation of administrative and judicial bodies of the city.

The age of fragmentation (1132-1239; the period of 107 years)

 After the death of Prince Mstyslav (the son of Volodymyr Monomakh) in 1132 the age of fragmentation of Kyiv Grand Prince State started and brought the period of city’s demolition. Local self-government was nearly almost absent at the time. Kyiv was headed (or robbed) by 46 leaders. The most terrific financial and human losses were brought by Prince Andriy Boholyubs’kiy in 1169. He was extraordinary cruel and not only burnt the houses of the citizens, but also robbed and burnt lots of churches and stole a magic Volodymyr’s icon of mother of God. Though, all of his terrible actions against Kyiv’s citizens and the city itself, didn’t prevent the Moscow Orthodox church from canonizing him in 1751.

Kyiv as a part of Galicia-Volyn State (1230-1240)

In 1239 Kyiv was added to Galicia-Volyn State by the king Danylo the Galician. During a short term of 1 year the city was governed by Danylo Yejkovitch.

Under the rule of Golden Horde (1240-1325; the period of 85 years)

After Kyiv was captured and bankrupted in 1240 by the horde of Khan Batiy, it appeared under the rule of Mongolian-Tatar yoke. For 85 years Kyiv was solely ruled by Khan’s tribunes and carried the burden of tribute.

Common rule of Lytva and Golden Horde (1325-1362; the period of 37 years)

Kyiv was conquered by the Lithuanian Prince Gedymin in 1325. Though, his efforts of total control over the city failed, he ruled for 37 years together with Khan’s tribunes.

Lithuanian age (1362-1569; the period of 207 years)

The mixed army of Lithuanian and Ukrainian soldiers under the leadership of Lithuanian Prince Olherd have won the battle with three Khans on the Blue Waters in 1362. It caused the final unification of Ukrainian lands with the Grand Principality of Lithuania. During the period of 34 years Kyiv remained the capital of Kyiv principality and was ruled by the Prince of Kyiv and Lithuanian tribune. But in 1396 Kyiv Principality was transformed into Lithuanian Vicegerency and for 44 years was governed by the tribunes of Lithuanian Prince. In 1440 Kyiv again becomes autonomous within the Grand Principality of Lithuania. For the following 31 years it was governed by Kyiv’s Prince under the control of Lithuanian tribune. Unfortunately, in 1471 the Kyiv authority was fully eliminated and the city was ruled solely by Lithuanian tribunes for the following 98 years.


Magdeburg Law


As the compensation for the lost autonomy, in 1494 Kyiv’s system of local self-government gained a Magdeburg Law order. The Statute, which was granted to the city by the Lithuanian Prince Alexander, limited the rights of tribunes, assigned by the Prince and expanded the rights of citizens. The full extension of the administrative system of Kyiv to the norms of Magdeburg Law was achieved in 1497-1499. The sense of the Magdeburg Law gave the community an opportunity of establishing the local system of self-government under the example of the German city of Magdeburg. It meant a totally new step in the development of the city administration – it brought the modernization and put Kyiv in the line with Western European cities. The Magdeburg Law brought following legal consequences: elimination of customary law, limitation of the rights of local magistrate (which consisted of 2 bodies – administrative and judicial).

The right of being elected to the magistrate was granted to the citizens, who fitted the following conditions: “kind, clever, living in the city, in the age from 25 to 70, not very rich, not very poor, with good reputation, those, who acknowledge the rule of law, secures justice and truth, have no greed or anger, are not moneylenders, have only one wife etc.” Magistrate controlled all affairs of the city – administrative, financial, householding, legal, judicial, military etc. It had its own architecture, municipal security and military units. The cavalry of Kyiv was called a “Golden Banner”. Municipal treasury was filled with taxes, customs, rental, municipal infrastructure and enterprises etc. The production of all of the consumer products was regulated by magistrate. It punished the dealers, controlled the accuracy of weights and measures, prohibited gambling and arrested criminals. It sponsored municipal hospital, public school, epidemic hospitals, fire department and local musicians.

It annually reported to the community about the profits and expenses of the city. Magdeburg Law has laid a fundament for Kyiv’s local self-governmental system and existed in the city for over than 340 yeas (up to 1835).

Kyiv as a part of Rich Pospolyta (1569-1648; a period of 79 years)

In 1569 Lithuania and Poland concluded a treaty, called a Union of Lyublin. It established a unified State – Rich Pospolyta (tr. - Republic), which also included Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine. Thus, Kyiv became a part of it for 79 years. Central public authorities in the city were represented by Kyiv’s governor, who was assigned by a Polish king. Wishing to get the support of the citizens, Polish authorities kept prolonging the Magdeburg rights, and local self-government of Kyiv stayed uninterrupted.

Community elected a magistrate, governor, and other officials. Administrative, financial, house holding and judicial affairs together with the regulation of prices for goods and taxes were within the competence of magistrate.

Kyiv in the period of national liberation fight of Ukrainian people (1648-1656; the period of 8 years)


Ukrainian population of Kyiv has actively participated in national liberation fight of Ukrainian people. Citizens of Kyiv raised a rebellion against Polish military units in December 1648. The city’s magistrate was headed by a newly elected governor – Kirill Mekhedenko. Thousands of people met the Cossacks’ army, leaded by Bohdan Khmelnitskiy, which entered the city on 28 December and was met with excitement and delight. Among them were municipal officials and Kyiv clergy, headed by a Jerusalem patriarch Pais. Bohdan Khmelnitskiy planned to transform Kyiv into political center of Ukrainian Cossack’s State. “Kyiv is mine. I am a governor and owner of Kyiv” – he used to say in 1649 during the negotiations with the commissars of Polish king. In 1652 Bohdan granted a “protection Charter” to “his capital”. That Charter prohibited passing Cossacks’ units to enter the city and demand from the citizens more fruits and resources than it was listed in it.

The years of Ukrainian Cossacks’ state left their trace on local self-government of Kyiv. Together with the magistrate, the city was controlled by a governor of the Kyiv unit of Cossacks (one unit included 1790 soldiers).


Kyiv during the Ruined age (1656-1686; the period of 30 years)

 Ukrainian Cossacks State had endured lots of expanses in 1656, as it lost several battles in Poland and suffered the death of Bohdan Khmelnitskiy. The age of dual power came among the rows of Cossacks. That dualism on the Left and Right sides of the Dnieper has brought to numerous ruinations of Kyiv by Moscow tsar and Tatars during the Ruined age. For 30 years the status and territorial integrity of Kyiv stayed undefined. In 1655 the Moscow army entered the city, though the negotiations between Rich Pospolyta and Moscow Kingdom were still pending. In fact, Kyiv was in a status of temporarily occupied city. During the Ruined age Kyiv was governed solely by the laws of local self-government and wasn’t prejudiced to any other administration: Polish, Hetman’s or Moscow’s. The body of local self-government in Kyiv was represented by an elected magistrate. Despite difficult economic conditions of the Ruined age, the city was spiritually reborn: being already free from Polish impact, it didn’t get under the one of Moscow.


Historical purchase and sale of Kyiv in 1686

Losses at the final stages of national liberation fight of Ukrainian people (1648-1656) caused the attenuation of Rich Pospolyta and the start of the expansion of Moscow Kingdom to the West. No one accepted or recognized the Pereyaslav Articles of 1654. The kings of Poland and Moscow divided Ukrainian lands the way they wanted to. Andrusovo’s peaceful treaty resulted into the second division of Ukraine between Moscow and Rich Pospolyta by the line of Dnieper. Kyiv stayed with Poland. After the third division (under the Eternal Peace of 1686), Kyiv was governed by Moscow Kingdom. For the “protectorate” over Kyiv Moscow Kingdom paid to Rich Pospolyta an unbelievable price of 1 million of Polish zloty. So, in fact, Kyiv was sold by a Polish King Ian III Sobes’kiy to Moscow Tsar. That is why, the version of “unification of Kyiv and Moscow” is considered to be just a tale. Kyiv was simply sold, as were many other towns and villages at that times.

Kyiv as the city, occupied by Moscow Kingdom (1686-1710; a period of 24 years)

Polish Sejm was against transmission of Kyiv to Moscow and didn’t ratify the treaty of 1686. In accordance to international legal relations Kyiv was owned by Rich Pospolyta and up to 1710 remained in a status of the city occupied by Moscow Kingdom. All these circumstances provoked conclusion of the separate “eternally peaceful” treaty between the kings of Rich Pospolyta and Moscow. Polish Sejm, Ukrainian hetmans and Cossacks’ leaders from the Right and Left Sides of Ukraine were against this treaty. It should be noted that in a short period at the end of 17th century three historical events, which had an extraordinary influence on the destiny and future of Kyiv, happened: “eternally peaceful treaty” of 1686, election of Ivan Mazepa as Ukrainian Hetman in 1678, start of Peter the 1st reigning in 1689. They didn’t impact local self-government of Kyiv a lot. Ivan Mazepa, being extremely influential both in Moscow and Ukraine, also liked Kyiv and didn’t interrupt into its domestic affairs and even protected the interests of citizens. Kyiv continued to live by the laws of Magdeburg rights. Citizens elected magistrate and other officials. Magistrate controlled all the municipal affairs – administrative, financial, house holding, legal, judicial, military etc.

Kyiv under the rule of Moscow Kingdom, afterwards – Russian Empire (1710-1917; a period of 207 years)

After the Poltava battle of 1709 and strengthening of Moscow Kingdom, Polish Sejm ratified an “eternally peaceful” treaty (in 1710 – in 24 years after the treaty was signed) and, thus, Kyiv officially became a part of Moscow Kingdom. Geopolitical position of Kyiv on the Right Side of the Dnieper was strategically beneficial for Moscow in the context of its further expansion to the West. This ratification brought significant changes to the local self-government of Kyiv. The Kyiv’s Province, headed by the Governor-General, who became a sole dictator of Kyiv lands, was established. Traditions of Magdeburg law were gradually displaced by administration, assigned by central authorities and Moscow tsars. The city appeared to be under the hard tension of totalitarian and centralized politics of Moscow, which afterwards became Russian Empire. Tsar Peter the 1st has gradually eliminated democratic principles of local self-government in Kyiv. The tradition of electing magistrate and officials was also eliminated. They were assigned by central authorities and cared only about their personal profits instead of affairs of the city.

Russian Queen Catherine the 2nd, who came to the throne in 1762, continued the politics of centralization, which were established by Peter the 1st. In 1764 Ukrainian lands lost the remains of Hetman’s administrative system and started losing their autonomy.

Russian tsars Pavlo the 1st (1796) and Alexander the 1st (1801) partially returned to Kyiv the elements of Magdeburg system of local self-government. But it was not for long. In 1834 tsar Mykola the 1st liquidated those changes. This liquidation started transformation of Kyiv from Ukrainian European city into typical provincial town of Russian Empire. Lots of Russian merchants with old religious beliefs, opinions and culture moved to Kyiv and impacted city’s culture by taking it backwards and slowing the process of any municipal development. Voting system was radically changed: the right to vote was then granted only to those, who owned capital. It decreased the quantity of voters among citizens to 1%. All public authorities were, in fact, owned by rich classes of population and operated within their interests. Elections of the Mayor had to be confirmed by Minister of domestic affaires of Russian Empire.

The period of revolution and civil war (1917-1920)

During the years of revolution Kyiv was solely ruled by the commissars of Government ad interim, Central Assembly, head of Bolshevik’s military committees, ottomans of Hetman Skoropadskiy, ottomans of general Denykin, military commanders of Polish army, secretaries of revolutionary committees of communist party. During those years power in Kyiv changed for more than 14 times. During the period of Ukrainian People’s Republic an effort of transforming Kyiv into an European city was made. According to the Constitution of Ukrainian People’s Republic, civil communities were granted with a broad specter of self-governmental rights. In accordance to Article 26 of Constitution: “All kinds of local affairs are dealt with by Assemblies of communities and only they are endowed with direct local power…” Unfortunately, constitutional conditions were not realized and in 1920th, after the downfall of Directory, control over the country came to the Bolshevik powers. Kharkov was selected as the capital of Ukraine and Kyiv became only a Soviet province – the center of Kyiv Province.

The Soviet period (1920-1990; a period of 70 years)

Under the dictatorship of proletariat (1920-1941)

After the Bolshevik regime was established, the bodies of local self-government were eliminated and substituted to the organs of “proletariat dictatorship” – revolutionary committees. The whole fullness of powers in the city of Kyiv belonged to the revolutionary committee of Kyiv. Following the instructions of central bodies, in April 1921 it held 1st elections to Kyiv City Council of working and red army deputies. 1459 deputies were elected to the Council. Among them were 1093 communists. The competence of the Council was purely formal, as Kyiv was governed by revolutionary committee. In 1932 Kyiv region was established with Kyiv as its’ regional center. In 1934 the capital of Ukraine was moved from Kharkiv to Kyiv and together with the status, all central bodies of the party of Ukrainian Soviet Republic moved there too. After this movement, Kyiv suffered barbarous socialist transformation. To free municipal lands in order to construct administrative and party buildings, Bolsheviks demolished the majority of Kyiv’s unique churches. When, in 1936, the Constitution of Stalin was adopted, all the councils got the status of bodies of state power, though in reality the power belonged to local organs of the party upon the agreement of central organs.

Kyiv under German occupation (1941-1943)


During the 2nd World War Kyiv was occupied by the German army of Nazi. Tough occupational regime of Third German Reich was set here.

All administrative and military power belonged to German military commanders. Several representative elements were introduced in local self-government by the regime: e.g. civil Kyiv City Administration.


“Socialist” Kyiv (1945-1990)


The city was seriously ruined and lost numerous resources (including human). The center was totally demolished. All citizens volunteered to participate in reconstruction. Postwar renovation of Kyiv continued for more than 15 years and was finished before 1960. Local powers in Kyiv belonged to Kyiv city committee, which recommended all of administrative and house holding officials in the city. First postwar elections of the deputies to Kyiv City Council were held in December 1947. Harsh centralized state and local authorities existed in conditions of communist totalitarian system. Formally, “bourgeois local self-government” was opposed to local “councils of people’s deputies”, the lists of which were formed by local party bodies. Free elections of deputies were impossible. Candidates for the posts of the heads of Kyiv City Council and Kyiv Executive Committee were agreed by a Bureau of the Communist party, and voting of the deputies on sessions had a formal character. The Constitution of Brezhnev, adopted 7th October 1977 only strengthened political and state powers of administrative party. Article 6th of this Constitution legally reinforced the monopoly of communist system as a “guiding force of Soviet society, center of its political system, state and civil organizations”. Soviet propaganda used to call the period from 1960s to the middle of 1980s a “developed socialism” (but, in fact, it was a period of stagnation). A deep political, economic and social crisis of the system was formed in that period. It led to the final collapse of social command administrative system and political demolition of Soviet Empire.


Kyiv – the capital of Ukraine

Democratic elections in postSoviet period were for the first time held on 4th March 1990. Elections of the deputies of the 1st convocation were guided with principles of free, general, secret, equal and direct right to vote in accordance to legislation of Ukrainian Soviet Republic. But real Renaissance of local self-government in Kyiv started after the adoption of Declaration on State Sovereignty of Ukraine in 1990.

With proclamation of Ukraine’s independence in 1991 and adoption of Constitution of Ukraine in 1996 local self-government got constitutional status. Law of Ukraine “On local self-government in Ukraine” set a framework of systems and guarantees of local self-government, basics of organization and operation of the bodies and officials, functioning in the sphere, their status and responsibilities. Ratification of European Charter of local self-government by Verkhovna Rada laid legal foundation for establishment and development of local self-government in Ukraine according to European Charter and Constitution of Ukraine. Adoption of the Law of Ukraine “On the capital of Ukraine – hero city of Kyiv” was a significant event for the city. It pointed out the basics of forming and operation of local authorities, system of organizational and financial guarantees of the State to the citizens of the capital. Together with other legal acts, it enabled the citizens to independently elect Mayor and deputies of Kyiv City Council. Establishment of the legal basis for local self-government in Kyiv was an absolutely positive factor, but this process demands further attention and development in order to construct a self-sufficient civil society.

Representative power in Kyiv

A representative body of local self-government in Kyiv is Kyiv City Council. It is an elected organ, which consists of the deputies of Kyiv City Council and according to the laws of Ukraine, is endowed with the right of representing citizens and making decisions on their behalf. Starting from 1990, the citizens of Kyiv were choosing deputies for 7 times (in 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2008 and 2014). Elections of the deputies of 7th convocation were held via mixed system, when half of the deputies were elected under the voting lists of the parties, and the other – under the majority system. There were near 700 deputies elected by Kyiv City Council during all convocations.

Lots of deputies of Kyiv City Council continued their political and legislative activity in Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

Kyiv City Council of 7th convocation (2014-2015)

On 25th May 2014 extraordinary elections of the deputies of Kyiv City Council and Mayor were held. Vitaliy Klitschko was elected as the Mayor. On 19th June 2014 Oleksiy Reznikov was elected as Deputy Mayor – Secretary of Kyiv City Council of 7th convocation.


Executive power in Kyiv


The body of executive power in Kyiv in 1990-1992 and 1994-1995 was an executive committee of Kyiv City Council and was elected by it. In 1992-1994 the obligations of an executive organ were carried out by the Representative of the President of Ukraine in the city of Kyiv, who simultaneously held an office of the head of Kyiv City Council. He had a status of legal person, official stamp and solely carried out his obligations.

From 1995 Kyiv City State Administration became an organ of an executive power, which, starting from 1999, functioned as an executive body of Kyiv City Council.

Розширений пошук