Declaration of Independence of Ukraine

Ukraine Verkhovna Rada Leonid Kravchuk
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, Kiev
Author(s)Levko Lukyanenko
SignatoriesLeonid Kravchuk
PurposeDeclaration of independence

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]


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 Kiev 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 Kiev 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 recognition

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 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 Independence

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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