History of Ukrainian Inauguration Ceremonies
At times, the inauguration ceremony has seemed to be indicative of what would happen during the Ukrainian presidents' terms
They go through the parliament lobby and to the session hall. The newly elected president assumes office after receiving his presidential ID.
The inauguration of Viktor Yanukovych started with a bad omen. The doors in the parliament almost shut in front of him.
In 2014, after the victory of the Revolution of Dignity and flight of Viktor Yanukovych, Petro Poroshenko was elected as the new president of Ukraine. His inauguration took place against the backdrop of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Russian led forces invading eastern Ukraine.
The ceremony was quite modest, yet 56 international delegations attended, among them 23 presidents. During Poroshenko’s walk to the Rada one of the guard’s fainted as a result of the intense heat.
The protocol of the inauguration ceremony was first devised for the inauguration of Leonid Kravchuk, the first president of independent Ukraine.
“There was no constitution and a decision was made to swear the oath of office on the Peresopnytske Book of Gospels to increase our responsibility. I swore the oath to the Ukrainian people. There was still no official national anthem so we decided to use a spiritual anthem ‘Dear Lord, protect our Ukraine!’ I remember that for the first time in years, even after all the difficulties, for the first time I teared up,” Kravchuk said.
The main “spiritual” book of Ukraine is stored in the Institue of Manuscripts of the National Vernadsky Library. To bring it for the inauguration a special request should come from the presidential administration or from the parliament.
“It is delivered in an armored car with security guards to the Verkhovna Rada,” Director of the Institue of Manuscripts Olha Stepchenko said.
The book itself is 463 years old. It was created over five years. The manuscript contains 482 pages and it belonged to Ukrainian Hetman Ivan Mazepa.
“The manuscript weighs 9 kilograms 300 grams. This holy scripture is a translation from Old Slavic to simple Ukrainian language. For a long time, this book was used in divine masses. You can tell that by looking at the damaged page corners. It also traveled a lot over the time of its existence. From Pereyasliv Khmelnytskyi it went to Poltava, from Poltava to Ufa. Fortunately, it came back to Ukraine,” Stepchenko said.
After reading the oath the new head of the state quite literally gets into the presidential seat and signs his first decree.
Afterward, the head of the Central Electoral Commission gives him the presidential ID, while the head of the constitutional court awards the president with the symbols of the office – the bade, official seal and the hetman mace.
“This tradition originated in the time of Hetmans. When the Hetman was elected he was given a mace as a symbol of power. This custom has been passed on for generations,” Presidential Fund of Ukraine Employee Natalia Lukianets said.
When Kuchma was elected for his second term in office, the inauguration took place in one of the biggest concert halls in the country. The Verkhovna Rada held an offsite session.
The inauguration of Viktor Yushchenko was also a special one. He made an oath to the people of Ukraine in the parliament first and then on the Independence Square in the center of Kyiv. The two-hour show was broadcast live.
All presidents say that the inauguration is a small detail in their biography. It’s what comes next that matters – five years of meticulous work and enormous responsibility.