Declaration of Independence of Ukraine

The Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine (Ukrainian: Акт проголошення незалежності України, romanizedAkt proholoshennia nezalezhnosti Ukrainy) was adopted by the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR on 24 August 1991.[1]

Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine
Typewritten version of the act
Original titleUkrainian: Акт проголошення незалежності України
Created24 August 1991
Ratified24 August 1991
LocationCentral State Archive of the higher governing bodies of Ukraine, Kyiv
Author(s)Levko Lukianenko
SignatoriesLeonid Kravchuk
PurposeDeclaration of independence
Full text
Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine at Wikisource

The Act reestablished Ukraine's state independence from the Soviet Union.[2][1] The declaration was affirmed by a majority of Ukrainians in all regions of Ukraine by an independence referendum on 1 December, followed by international recognition starting on the following day. Ukrainian independence led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union by 26 December 1991.



The Act was adopted in the aftermath of the coup attempt in the Soviet Union on 19 August, when hardline Communist leaders attempted to restore central Communist party control over the USSR.[1] In response (during a tense 11-hour extraordinary session),[3] the Supreme Soviet (parliament) of the Ukrainian SSR, in a special Saturday session, overwhelmingly approved the Act of Declaration.[1] The Act passed with 321 votes in favor, 2 votes against, and 6 abstentions (out of 360 attendants).[3] The text was largely composed during the night of 23 August–24 August mainly by Levko Lukyanenko, Serhiy Holovatyi, Mykhailo Horyn, Ivan Zayets and Vyacheslav Chornovil.[4]

The Communist Party of Ukraine (CPU), with the campaigning behind the scenes by its fellow Party member and Ukrainian Supreme Soviet Chairman Leonid Kravchuk,[4] felt compelled to support the Act in order to distance itself from the coup.[3] CPU First Secretary Stanislav Hurenko argued that "it will be a disaster" if the CPU were to fail to support independence.[3] CPU members had been unnerved by the news of former Ukrainian SSR party leader Vladimir Ivashko's arrest in Moscow, the re-subordination of the Soviet Army under the leaders of the Russian SFSR and the sealing of the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee's premises.[4]

People celebrate the declaration near the Verkhovna Rada building (24 August 1991)
The front page of the parliamentary newspaper Holos Ukrayiny with the text of the declaration printed on the lower half (27 August 1991)

The same day (24 August), the parliament called for a referendum on support for the Declaration of Independence.[1][3] The proposal for calling the national referendum came jointly from opposition leaders Ihor Yukhnovsky and Dmytro Pavlychko.[3] The Parliament also voted for the creation of a national guard of Ukraine and turned jurisdiction over all the armed forces located on Ukrainian territory over to itself.[3]

Other than a noisy crowd that had gathered at the Parliament building, the streets of Kyiv were quiet that day, with few signs of open celebration.[3]

In the days that followed, a number of resolutions and decrees were passed: nationalizing all CPU property and handing it over to the Supreme Soviet and local councils; issuing an amnesty for all political prisoners; suspending all CPU activities and freezing CPU assets and bank accounts pending official investigations into possible collaboration with the Moscow coup plotters; setting up a committee of inquiry into official behavior during the coup; and establishing a committee on military matters related to the creation of a Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.[3]

On 26 August 1991, the Permanent Representative of the Ukrainian SSR to the United Nations (Soviet Ukraine being a founding member of the United Nations),[5] Hennadiy Udovenko, informed the office of the Secretary General of the United Nations that his permanent mission to this international assembly would officially be designated as representing Ukraine.[5][6] That same day, the executive committee of Kyiv also voted to remove all the monuments of Communist heroes from public places, including the Lenin monument in the central October Revolution Square.[3] The committee decided that the large square would be renamed Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) as would the central Metro station below it.[3]

Two days later, more than 200,000 Lviv and Lviv oblast residents declared their readiness to serve in the national guard.[7]

In the independence referendum on 1 December 1991, the people of Ukraine expressed deep and widespread support for the Act of Declaration of Independence, with more than 90% voting in favor, and 84% of the electorate participating.[1][8] The referendum took place on the same day as Ukraine's first direct presidential election; all six presidential candidates supported independence and campaigned for a "yes" vote. The referendum's passage ended any realistic chance of the Soviet Union remaining together even on a limited scale; Ukraine had long been second only to Russia in economic and political power in the USSR.

A week after the election, newly elected president Leonid Kravchuk joined his Russian and Belarusian counterparts (Boris Yeltsin and Stanislav Shushkevich, respectively) in signing the Belovezh Accords, which declared that the Soviet Union had ceased to exist.[9] The Soviet Union officially dissolved on 26 December.[10]

Since 1992, the 24th of August is celebrated in Ukraine as Independence Day.[11]

International recognition


Poland and Canada were the first countries to recognize Ukraine's independence, both on 2 December 1991.[12][13][14] On the same day (2 December) it was reported during the late-evening airing of the television news program Vesti that the President of the Russian SFSR, Boris Yeltsin, had recognized Ukraine's independence.[15]

The United States did so on 25 December 1991.[16][17] That month the independence of Ukraine was recognized by 68 states, and in 1992 it was recognized by another 64 states.[18]

In January 1992, U.S. President George H. W. Bush approved a program of American humanitarian support for Ukraine and the rest of the former USSR, supervised by the Secretary of Defense.[19]

By the end of 1991 there was widespread international recognition.[12][13][14][20][16][17][18]

A chronology of international
recognition of the independence of Ukraine
Date Country
December 2, 1991   Poland
  Russia[note 1]
December 3, 1991   Hungary
December 4, 1991   Latvia
December 5, 1991   Argentina
  Croatia[note 2]
December 9, 1991   Estonia
December 10, 1991   Belarus[note 3][note 4]
December 11, 1991   Slovenia[note 2]
December 12, 1991   Georgia[note 3]
December 16, 1991   Bulgaria
December 18, 1991   Armenia[note 3]
December 19, 1991   Sweden
December 20, 1991   Kyrgyzstan[note 3]
  Turkmenistan[note 3]
December 23, 1991   Kazakhstan[note 3]
December 24, 1991   Afghanistan
December 25, 1991   Iran
  Tajikistan[note 3]
  United States
December 26, 1991   Australia
  New Zealand
  Soviet Union[note 5]
December 27, 1991   Algeria
December 28, 1991   Indonesia
December 29, 1991   Bangladesh
December 30, 1991   Finland
  South Korea
December 31, 1991   Belgium
  United Kingdom
January 1, 1992   Iraq
January 2, 1992   Ethiopia
  United Arab Emirates
January 3, 1992   Egypt
January 4, 1992   Uzbekistan
January 5, 1992   Bahrain
January 7, 1992   Portugal
January 8, 1992   Romania
January 10, 1992   Guinea
January 17, 1992   Mongolia
January 19, 1992   Iceland
January 22, 1992   Philippines
January 24, 1992     Nepal
February 6, 1992   Azerbaijan
February 11, 1992   Botswana
February 14, 1992   South Africa
March 3, 1992   Malaysia
March 4, 1992   Madagascar
May 7, 1992   Rwanda
June 2, 1992   Senegal
June 8, 1992   Tanzania
July 23, 1993   Macedonia
  1. ^ De facto constituent republic of the Soviet Union until 12 December 1991, when the Belovezh Accords were ratified by the Russian parliament, de jure until 26 December, when the Supreme Soviet dissolved the USSR. Recognition of Ukraine's independence by Russia was announced on 2 December by President Boris Yeltsin during that day's edition of the late-evening news program Vesti[15]
  2. ^ a b De facto independent, but de jure constituent republic of SFR Yugoslavia until 15 January 1992.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g De facto independent, but de jure constituent republic of the Soviet Union until 26 December 1991.
  4. ^ The Belovezh Accords were ratified by the Belarusian parliament on this date. Formal diplomatic relations established on 27 December 1991.
  5. ^ The USSR self-dissolved, recognizing the independence of each of its former constituent republics aside from the Baltic republics, for which independence was recognized back in September 1991.



Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine

the Verkhovna Rada of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic solemnly declares
the Independence of Ukraine and the creation of an independent Ukrainian state – UKRAINE.

The territory of Ukraine is indivisible and inviolable.

From this day forward, only the Constitution and laws of Ukraine are valid on the territory of Ukraine.

This act becomes effective at the moment of its approval.

— Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, August 24, 1991


  1. ^ a b c d e f A History of Ukraine: The Land and Its Peoples by Paul Robert Magocsi, University of Toronto Press, 2010, ISBN 1442610212 (page 722/723)
  2. ^ Volodymyr Vasylenko. Non-nuclear status of Ukraine: past, present, and future (Без'ядерний статус України: минуле, сучасне, майбутнє). The Ukrainian Week. 31 May 2018
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Historic vote for independence, The Ukrainian Weekly (1 September 1991) Archived 2014-03-23 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ a b c A reform that ruined the Soviet Union, The Ukrainian Week (10 November 2018)
  5. ^ a b "Activities of the Member States – Ukraine". United Nations. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
  6. ^ U.N. Mission stresses statehood of Ukraine, The Ukrainian Weekly (1 September 1991) Archived 2016-05-02 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ NEWSBRIEFS FROM UKRAINE, The Ukrainian Weekly (1 September 1991) Archived 2016-05-02 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Act of Independence". 2022-03-29. Retrieved 2022-03-29.
  9. ^ Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation by Robert A. Saunders & Vlad Strukov, Scarecrow Press, 2010, ISBN 0810854759 (page 75)
  10. ^ Turning Points – Actual and Alternate Histories: The Reagan Era from the Iran Crisis to Kosovo by Rodney P. Carlisle and J. Geoffrey Golson, ABC-CLIO, 2007, ISBN 1851098852 (page 111)
  11. ^ Ukraine Intelligence & Security Activities and Operations Handbook Archived 2016-05-19 at the Wayback Machine, International Business Publications, 2009, ISBN 0739716611 (page 268)
  12. ^ a b Solchanyk, Roman (2001). Ukraine and Russia: The Post-Soviet Transition. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 100. ISBN 978-0-7425-1018-0. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  13. ^ a b C.B. Bourne, ed. (2011). The Canadian Yearbook of International Law. Vol. 30, 1992. University of British Columbia Press. p. 371. ISBN 978-0-7748-4380-5.
  14. ^ a b Szporluk, Roman (2000). Russia, Ukraine and the Breakup of the Soviet Union. Hoover Press. p. 355. ISBN 978-0-8179-9543-0.
  15. ^ a b "Ex-Communist Wins in Ukraine; Yeltsin Recognizes Independence". The New York Times. 3 December 1991. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  16. ^ a b "A Guide to the United States' History of Recognition, Diplomatic, and Consular Relations, by Country, since 1776: Ukraine". Office of the Historian, United States Department of State. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  17. ^ a b James E. Goodby; Benoit Morel, eds. (1993). The Limited Partnership: Building a Russian-US Security Community. Oxford University Press. p. 48. ISBN 978-0-19-829161-9. Retrieved 13 August 2017: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  18. ^ a b "Ukrainian Independence". Worldwide News Ukraine. Archived from the original on 4 January 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  19. ^ "Remarks at the International Conference on Humanitarian Assistance to the Former U.S.S.R". January 22, 1992. Archived from the original on July 22, 2021.
  20. ^ Hahn, Gordon M. (2002). Russia's Revolution from Above 1985–2000: Reform, Transaction, and Revolution in the Fall of the Soviet Communist Regime. Transaction Publishers. p. 482. ISBN 978-1-4128-3361-5. Retrieved 13 August 2017.