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First major protest under martial law in Ukraine seeks more Odesa funding for military

For the first time during martial law, a massive protest happened in Ukraine in the southern port city of Odesa. Up to 1,000 locals demanded to redirect the local budget money from road construction to the army.
The protest in Odesa on 9 September 2023. Photo: Dumska
First major protest under martial law in Ukraine seeks more Odesa funding for military

Although massive rallies are officially not allowed in Ukraine during martial law, in practice, authorities do not have methods to stop them.

Due to decentralization, Ukraine’s current legislation does not allow the central government to control local budgets, even during martial law. This has sparked outrage, as local councils in rear cities and villages have started spending local money on non-urgent needs during the war, such as repair and construction works.

In Odesa, the protest was due to several announced tenders for road construction in the city and suburbs worth nearly 30 million hryvnias each ($800,000).

There are also opposite examples when municipal and regional councils decide to support the army and internally displaced people from local budgets instead of financing local projects.

However, since this is conducted solely voluntarily, Ukraine’s Minister of Finance, Serhiy Marchenko, has proposed that Ukraine’s parliament change legislation and cut tax income in local budgets during martial law in favor of the state budget. If implemented, the taxation change could decrease local budgets in Ukraine by 25% in 2024 and relocate this money to the state budget.

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