1991/08: 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. The Act established Ukraine as an independent state.

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.

In response (during a tense 11-hour extraordinary session), the Supreme Soviet (parliament) of the Ukrainian SSR in a special Saturday session overwhelmingly approved the Act of Declaration.

The Act passed with 321 votes in favor, 2 votes against, and 6 abstentions (out of 360 attendants). The author of the text was Levko Lukyanenko.

The Communists (CPU) felt there was no choice other than a decision to secede and, as they expressed it, distance themselves from the events in Moscow, particularly the strong anti-Communist movement in the Russian Parliament. „If we don’t vote for independence, it will be a disaster,“ stated first secretary of the CPU Stanislav Hurenko during the debate.

The same day (24 August), the parliament called for a referendum on support for the Declaration of Independence.

The proposal for calling the national referendum came jointly from opposition leaders Ihor Yukhnovsky and Dmytro Pavlychko. 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.