Lawmakers voted in support of the bill that introduces the great coat of arms of Ukraine on Aug. 24, the day of the country’s 30th anniversary of independence.
Two hundred fifty-seven lawmakers supported the initiative in the first reading during an extraordinary sitting of the parliament that took place after the official celebrations marking Independence Day.
However, to get the final approval, the bill will have to be supported by at least 300 lawmakers. Ukraine’s Constitution rules that at least two-thirds of the parliament must back the great coat of arms.
Article 20 of Ukraine’s Constitution provides that the country’s great coat of arms must include the emblem of the Zaporizhzhya Army and the small coat of arms — the Ukrainian trident.
The suggested image of the great coat of arms features a blue shield with a golden trident held by a lion on the left side and a cossack on the right.
This image sparked criticism among lawmakers, especially President Volodymyr Zelensky’s opponents.
“Please, let’s not despise our perfect coat of arms, a trident. Do not support this harmful idea,” called on fellow colleagues Roman Lozynskyi, a lawmaker with the 20-member Voice faction that is undergoing a division.
“Our trident is unique, it has a thousand-year history. Ukrainian soldiers, going into battle, kept it in their hearts, kept it on their shields from time immemorial, remembering our entire long history,” said Mykola Kniazhytskyi, a lawmaker with the 27-member opposition European Solidarity faction.
Some historians also stand against the launch of the great coat of arms.
Chairman of the Ukrainian Heraldic Society Andriy Grechylo believes that the crown, which sits on the top of the trident, is inappropriate. Crowns are a sign of monarchy, which Ukraine isn’t, he wrote in an op-ed for Istorychna Pravda media outlet.
If the image of the crown is used as a reference to Ukraine’s history as Kyivan Rus, it must be an image of an actual crown of a Kyivan Rus ruler, a prince, Grechylo argued. There are no known images of such a crown.
While some dislike the design of the suggested coat of arms, many believe that Ukraine doesn’t need a great coat of arms at all and should stick with its smaller version, the trident. For that, at least 300 lawmakers would need to introduce changes to the Constitution and remove the mention of the great’s coat of arms. Moreover, such a decision would have to be confirmed by an all-national referendum.
The lawmakers for the ruling 243-member Servant of the People faction disagree. They called the proposed great coat of arms an “important symbol.”
“We should fulfill the Constitution and adopt the law on the great coat of arms,” said Oleksandr Kornienko, one of the leaders of the Servant of the People.
To get the law on the coat of arms approved in the final reading, the ruling party will need to negotiate with other factions to get several dozen extra votes.
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