Declaration of Independence of Ukraine

The Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine (Ukrainian: Акт проголошення незалежності України, translit. Akt proholoshennya nezalezhnosti Ukrayiny) was adopted by the Ukrainian parliament on 24 August 1991.[1] The Act reestablished Ukraine's state independence.[2][1]

Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine
Ukrainian: Акт проголошення незалежності України
Акт проголошення незалежності України.jpg
Typewritten version of the act
Created24 August 1991
Ratified24 August 1991
LocationCentral State Archive of the higher governing bodies of Ukraine, Kyiv
Author(s)Levko Lukyanenko
SignatoriesLeonid Kravchuk
PurposeDeclaration of independence


The Act was adopted in the aftermath of the coup attempt on 19 August when hardline Communist leaders of the Soviet Union tried 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 Communists (CPU), being persuaded behind the scenes by their fellow Party member and Supreme Soviet Chairman Leonid Kravchuk,[4] felt compelled to support the act in order to distance themselves from the coup.[3] CPU First Secretary Stanislav Hurenko argued that "it will be a disaster" if the CPU didn't support independence.[3] CPU members had been unnerved by the news of former 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 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 (the Ukrainian SSR was 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 on the central October Revolution Square.[3] The large square would be renamed Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) as would the central Metro station below it, the executive committee decided.[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 widespread support for the Act of Declaration of Independence, with more than 90% voting in favor, and 82% of the electorate participating.[1] 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 staying together even on a limited scale; Ukraine had long been second only to Russia in economic and political power.

A week after the election, newly elected president Leonid Kravchuk joined his Russian and Belarusian counterparts in signing the Belavezha Accords, which declared that the Soviet Union had ceased to exist.[8] The Soviet Union officially dissolved on 26 December.[9]

Since 1992, the 24th of August is celebrated in Ukraine as Independence Day.[10]

International recognitionEdit

Poland and Canada were the first countries to recognize Ukraine's independence, both on 2 December 1991.[11] 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.[12]

The United States did so on 25 December 1991.[13] That month the independence of Ukraine was recognized by 68 states, and in 1992 it was recognized by another 64 states.[14]

A chronology of international recognition of the independence of Ukraine
Date Country
December 2, 1991   Poland
December 2, 1991   Canada
December 2, 1991   Russian SFSR[note 1]
December 3, 1991   Hungary
December 4, 1991   Latvia
December 4, 1991   Lithuania
December 5, 1991   Argentina
December 5, 1991   Croatia[note 2]
December 5, 1991   Cuba
December 5, 1991   Czechoslovakia
December 9, 1991   Estonia
December 11, 1991   Slovenia
December 12, 1991   Georgia[note 3]
December 16, 1991   Bulgaria
December 16, 1991   Turkey
December 18, 1991   Armenia[note 3]
December 20, 1991   Kyrgyzstan[note 3]
December 20, 1991   Turkmenistan[note 3]
December 23, 1991   Kazakhstan[note 3]
December 23, 1991    Switzerland
December 24, 1991   Afghanistan
December 24, 1991   Norway
December 25, 1991   Iran
December 25, 1991   Israel
December 25, 1991   Mexico
December 25, 1991   Tajikistan[note 3]
December 25, 1991   United States
December 25, 1991   Yugoslavia
December 26, 1991   Australia
December 26, 1991   Brazil
December 26, 1991   Germany
December 28, 1991   India
December 26, 1991   New Zealand
December 26, 1991   Peru
December 26, 1991   Soviet Union
December 26, 1991   Syria
December 26, 1991   Thailand
December 26, 1991   Uruguay
December 27, 1991   Algeria
December 27, 1991   Belarus
December 27, 1991   Cambodia
December 27, 1991   China
December 27, 1991   Cyprus
December 27, 1991   France
December 27, 1991   Moldova
December 27, 1991   Vietnam
December 28, 1991   Indonesia
December 28, 1991   Italy
December 28, 1991   Japan
December 28, 1991   Jordan
December 29, 1991   Bangladesh
December 30, 1991   Finland
December 30, 1991   South Korea
December 30, 1991   Lebanon
December 30, 1991   Morocco
December 31, 1991   Belgium
December 31, 1991   Denmark
December 31, 1991   Greece
December 31, 1991   Luxembourg
December 31, 1991   Netherlands
December 31, 1991   Pakistan
December 31, 1991   Spain
December 31, 1991   United Kingdom
January 1, 1992   Iraq
January 2, 1992   Ethiopia
January 2, 1992   Laos
January 2, 1992   United Arab Emirates
January 3, 1992   Egypt
January 3, 1992   Libya
January 3, 1992   Panama
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. ^ Recognition of Ukraine's independence by the RSFSR was announced on 2 December 1991 by Boris Yeltsin during that day's edition of the late-evening news program Vesti[12]
  2. ^ De jure constituent republic of SFR Yugoslavia to 15 January 1992. De facto independent state
  3. ^ a b c d e f De jure constituent republic of the Soviet Union to 26 December 1991. De facto independent state

(Text of) Act of IndependenceEdit

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.



  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)
  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 2011-01-17.
  6. ^ U.N. Mission stresses statehood of Ukraine, The Ukrainian Weekly (1 September 1991)
  7. ^ NEWSBRIEFS FROM UKRAINE, The Ukrainian Weekly (1 September 1991)
  8. ^ Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation by Robert A. Saunders & Vlad Strukov, Scarecrow Press, 2010, ISBN 0810854759 (page 75)
  9. ^ 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)
  10. ^ Ukraine Intelligence & Security Activities and Operations Handbook, International Business Publications, 2009, ISBN 0739716611 (page 268)
  11. ^ Ukraine and Russia: The Post-Soviet Transition by Roman Solchanyk, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2000, ISBN 0742510182 (page 100)
    Canadian Yearbook of International Law, Vol 30, 1992, University of British Columbia Press, 1993, ISBN 9780774804387 (page 371)
    Russia, Ukraine, and the Breakup of the Soviet Union by Roman Szporluk, Hoover Institution Press, 2000, ISBN 0817995420 (page 355
  12. ^ a b "Ex-Communist Wins in Ukraine; Yeltsin Recognizes Independence". The New York Times. 3 December 1991. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  13. ^ A Guide to the United States' History of Recognition, Diplomatic, and Consular Relations, by Country, since 1776: Ukraine, Office of the Historian
    The Limited Partnership: Building a Russian-US Security Community by James E. Goodby and Benoit Morel, Oxford University Press, 1993, ISBN 0198291612 (page 48)
  14. ^ Ukrainian Independence, Worldwide News Ukraine

External linksEdit