Mass actions have become common in Ukraine. It is fine to gather and to express disagreement or indignation with the authorities’ actions. And if usually the main problem is to go through all the bureaucratic procedures, now quarantine realities are also must be taken into account.

We tell you how to organize a mass action so that there are no troubles with the law.

Equal Rights for Everyone

All citizens of Ukraine have the right to assemble peacefully without arms and to hold meetings, rallies, processions and demonstrations, upon notifying in advance the bodies of executive power or bodies of local self-government. This right is stipulated by Article 39 of the Constitution of Ukraine. This freedom is, in a certain sense, absolute and can only be restricted by a court, in accordance with the law, and only in the interests of national security and public order.

In other words, a state or local government body does not have the right to coordinate, allow or prohibit the holding of a mass action. The Constitution explicitly stipulates that the nature of interaction, in this case, is exclusively of a notification nature.

It is worth remembering that according to part three of Article 8 of the Constitution of Ukraine, the norms of the Constitution of Ukraine are norms of direct action. They are applied directly regardless of whether the relevant laws or other regulatory legal acts have been adopted for their development.

So, what is an advance notification, and where is the limit of this advance? Is there a specific time limit and is it even possible to measure the time limit?

The Constitutional Court of Ukraine in its decision on this issue clearly emphasizes that the organizers of such peaceful assemblies must notify these bodies of the holding of these events in advance, that is, within acceptable terms preceding the date of their holding. These terms should not limit the right of citizens provided for in Article 39 of the Constitution of Ukraine, but should serve as a guarantee of it and at the same time provide an opportunity for the relevant executive authorities or local self-government bodies to take measures for the unhindered holding of meetings, rallies, processions and demonstrations by citizens, ensuring public order, the rights and freedoms of other people.

Determining specific dates for early notification, taking into account the specifics of the forms of peaceful assemblies, their mass character, place, time of holding, etc., is the subject of legislative regulation.

That is, now there is no legally defined deadline for advance notification, so this is given exclusively to the discretion of the organizers of the action.

We advise you to do this with sufficient time so that the state can familiarize with your application. It is worth considering that notification is not a way to restrict your rights, but rather an opportunity to protect yourself during the action because the state and local governments take on the function of maintaining order, suppressing possible illegal actions, and so on.

What should be indicated in advance application?
  • application recipient;
  • sender — exact indication of the full name of the organization or surname, first name and patronymic of the citizen, address of residence (residence), contact phone number;
  • purpose, form, and venue of the event;
  • route of passage;
  • start and end times of the event;
  • projected number of participants;
  • full name, place of residence, contact phone numbers of the organizers;
  • date of application submission.

It is also possible to submit an application by mail, which is convenient when the organizer is not located in the city where the action is planned. You can submit an application in this way by registered mail with an inventory of the attachment and a notification of its receipt.

Mass Action Control

The control of the order of mass actions falls under the jurisdiction of the executive bodies of village, settlement, and city councils, in particular, as delegated powers (Article 38, part 1, paragraph “b,” subparagraph 3 of the Law of Ukraine “On Local Self-Government in Ukraine”).

Executive authorities and local self-government bodies have the right to file a claim to the court immediately after receiving the application with a statement of claim for banning mass events or otherwise restricting the right to peaceful assembly (Article 280, part 1 of the Code of Administrative Procedure of Ukraine).

For example, in the interests of national security and ensuring public order, the court may grant the plaintiff’s request if it is proved that holding a mass action could create a real risk of disorder or criminal offenses, a threat to public health or the rights and freedoms of others.

If a restriction on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly is established, the court must justify in the decision the need to establish a restriction on the exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, as well as the proportionality of the method of such restriction. An administrative case prohibiting or restricting the exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly is decided by the court within two days after the commencement of proceeding and in the case of the commencement of proceeding less than two days before the relevant events — immediately.

A statement of claim received later than 24 hours before the time of holding the events defined in part one of this article shall be left without consideration.

Possible Risks

First, it is necessary to take into account the current quarantine situation in Ukraine and the world. Despite the purpose of the campaign, the number of its participants and their age, it is necessary to follow the rules adopted by the authorities: keep a distance, use personal protective equipment, limit participation in actions if you have contacts with those who are ill or feel bad. These simple rules can really save lives.

Secondly, when submitting an application to the authorized bodies, you may not accept applications, citing various grounds. In this case, ask them to draw up an act of refusal to accept the application and record the conversation on a voice recorder or video camera — this evidence will play a significant role in court. Or send such an application by mail with a description of the attachment and a notification of delivery. This will eliminate the need to conflict with the office staff. Instead, you will have “ironclad” proof of the message, namely: a description of the email attachment (which was sent) and a receipt (proof of sending).

Problems may also arise during the event. There are cases when law enforcement officers demand various documents from the organizers, and in their absence accompany the participants of the event to the police department. To insure yourself and the participants, we advise the organizers to have a passport and an application for notification of the local council or state administration about the event with a note of its acceptance. If you try to stop the event, ask for an appropriate court decision.

Following these simple rules will help you legally and safely express your views on a particular event and help others do so! In addition, it is very important to know your rights and obligations in order to communicate competently with law enforcement bodies if necessary.