1991 Ukrainian independence referendum

Last updated
Ukrainian independence referendum
Sunday, 1 December 1991
Do you support the Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine?
Ukrainian independence referendum result.jpg
The result of the referendum in a bulletin.
Yes check.svgYes28,804,07192.26%
X mark.svgNo2,417,5547.74%
Valid votes31,221,62597.90%
Invalid or blank votes670,1172.10%
Total votes31,891,742100.00%
Results by region
Ukr Referendum 1991.png
  Yes    No
Note: Yes results in yellow color. Saturation of colour denotes strength of vote

A referendum on the Act of Declaration of Independence was held in Ukraine on 1 December 1991. [1] An overwhelming majority of 92.3% of voters approved the declaration of independence made by the Verkhovna Rada on 24 August 1991.

Ukraine Sovereign state in Eastern Europe

Ukraine, sometimes called the Ukraine, is a country in Eastern Europe. Excluding Crimea, Ukraine has a population of about 42.5 million, making it the 32nd most populous country in the world. Its capital and largest city is Kiev. Ukrainian is the official language and its alphabet is Cyrillic. The dominant religions in the country are Eastern Orthodoxy and Greek Catholicism. Ukraine is currently in a territorial dispute with Russia over the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014. Including Crimea, Ukraine has an area of 603,628 km2 (233,062 sq mi), making it the largest country entirely within Europe and the 46th largest country in the world.

Declaration of Independence of Ukraine

The Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine was adopted by the Ukrainian parliament on 24 August 1991. The Act established Ukraine as an independent state.

Verkhovna Rada Ukrainian Parliament

The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, often simply Verkhovna Rada or just Rada, is the unicameral parliament of Ukraine. The Verkhovna Rada is composed of 450 deputies, who are presided over by a chairman (speaker). The Verkhovna Rada meets in the Verkhovna Rada building in Ukraine's capital Kiev.


The referendum

Voters were asked "Do you support the Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine?" [2] The text of the Declaration was included as a preamble to the question. The referendum was called by the Parliament of Ukraine to confirm the Act of Independence, which was adopted by the Parliament on 24 August 1991. [3] Citizens of Ukraine expressed overwhelming support for independence. In the referendum, 31,891,742 registered voters (or 84.18% of the electorate) took part, and among them 28,804,071 (or 92.3%) voted "Yes". [2]

On the same day, a presidential election took place. All six candidates campaigned in favour of a "Yes" vote in the independence referendum. Leonid Kravchuk, the parliament chairman and de facto head of state, was elected to serve as the first President of Ukraine. [4]

Leonid Kravchuk Ukrainian politician

Leonid Makarovych Kravchuk is a former Ukrainian politician and the first President of Ukraine, who served from 5 December 1991, until his resignation on 19 July 1994. He is also a former Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada and People's Deputy of Ukraine serving in the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (united) faction.

Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada speaker of Ukrainian parliament

The Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine is the presiding officer of the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's unicameral parliament. The chairman presides over the parliament and its procedures. Chairmen are elected by open voting from the parliament's deputy ranks.

President of Ukraine Ukrainian head of state

The President of Ukraine is the Ukrainian head of state. The president represents the nation in international relations, administers the foreign political activity of the state, conducts negotiations and concludes international treaties. The president is directly elected by the citizens of Ukraine for a five-year term of office, limited to two terms consecutively.

From 2 December 1991 on Ukraine was globally recognized as an independent state (by other countries). [5] [6] [7] That day the President of the Russian SFSR Boris Yeltsin did the same. [8] [9] [10] [11] In a telegram of congratulations Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev sent to Kravchuk soon after the referendum, Gorbachev included his hopes for close Ukrainian cooperation and understanding in "the formation of a union of sovereign states". [12]

Boris Yeltsin 1st President of Russia and Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR

Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin was a Soviet and Russian politician who served as the first President of the Russian Federation from 1991 to 1999. A member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1961 to 1990, he later stood as a political independent, during which time he was ideologically aligned with liberalism and Russian nationalism.

President of the Soviet Union Head of State of the Soviet Union between 1990 and 1991

The President of the Soviet Union, officially called President of the USSR or President of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was the head of state of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics from 15 March 1990 to 25 December 1991. Mikhail Gorbachev was the only person to occupy the office. Gorbachev was also General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union between March 1985 and August 1991. He derived an increasingly greater share of his power from his position as president until he finally resigned as General Secretary after the 1991 coup d'état attempt.

Mikhail Gorbachev 20th-century General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a Russian and formerly Soviet politician. The eighth and last leader of the Soviet Union, he was General Secretary of its governing Communist Party from 1985 until 1991. He was the country's head of state from 1988 until 1991, serving as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet from 1988 to 1989, Chairman of the Supreme Soviet from 1989 to 1990, and President of the Soviet Union from 1990 to 1991. Ideologically, he initially adhered to Marxism-Leninism although by the early 1990s had moved toward social democracy.

Ukraine was the second-most powerful republic in the Soviet Union both economically and politically (behind only Russia), and its secession ended any realistic chance of Gorbachev keeping the Soviet Union together. By December 1991 all former Soviet Republics except the RSFSR [13] and the Kazakh SSR [13] had formally seceded from the Union. [14] A week after his election, Kravchuk joined with Yeltsin and Belarusian leader Stanislav Shushkevich in signing the Belavezha Accords, which declared that the Soviet Union had ceased to exist. [15] The Soviet Union officially dissolved on 26 December. [16]

Post-Soviet states States established following the disestablishment of the Soviet Union

The post-Soviet states, also collectively known as the former Soviet Union (FSU) or former Soviet Republics, and in Russian as the "near abroad" are the sovereign states that emerged and re-emerged from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in its breakup in 1991, with Russia internationally recognised as the successor state to the Soviet Union after the Cold War. The three Baltic states were the first to declare their independence, between March and May 1990, claiming continuity from the original states that existed prior to their annexation by the Soviet Union in 1940. The remaining 12 republics all subsequently seceded. 12 of the 15 states, excluding the Baltic states, initially formed the CIS and most joined CSTO, while the Baltic states focused on European Union and NATO membership.

Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic One of the republics in the Soviet Union from 1936 to 1991

The Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic was one of the transcontinental constituent republics of the Soviet Union from 1936 to 1991 in northern Central Asia. It was created on 5 December 1936 from the Kazakh ASSR, an autonomous republic of the Russian SFSR.

Stanislav Shushkevich Belarusian politician and scientist

Stanislav Stanislavovich Shushkevich is a Belarusian politician and scientist. From August 25, 1991 to January 26, 1994, he was the first head of state of independent Belarus after it seceded from the Soviet Union, serving as Chairman of the Supreme Soviet. He supported social democratic reforms and played a key role in the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States.


The ballot paper used in the referendum, with the text of the Declaration of Independence printed on it. Buleten 1991-12.jpg
The ballot paper used in the referendum, with the text of the Declaration of Independence printed on it.

Ukrainian media had converted en masse to the independence ideal.

Polls showed 63% support for the "Yes" campaign in September 1991; that grew to 77% in the first week of October 1991 and 88% by mid-November 1991. [17]

55% of the ethnic Russians in Ukraine voted for independence. [18]

Invalid/blank votes670,117
Registered voters/turnout37,885,55584.2
Source: Nohlen & Stöver

By region

The Act of Independence was supported by a majority of voters in each of the 27 administrative regions of Ukraine: 24 Oblasts, 1 Autonomous Republic, and 2 Special Municipalities (Kiev City and Sevastopol City). [4] Voter turnout was lowest in Eastern and Southern Ukraine. [17] Calculating the "yes"-votes as a percentage of the total electorate reveals a lower percentage of all possible voters in Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donetsk, and Odessa Oblasts and Crimea supported Ukrainian independence than in the rest of the country. [17]

No-vote in % per Ukrainian Oblast Ukr Referendum 1991 No.png
No-vote in % per Ukrainian Oblast
Subdivision Voted "Yes" % [4] Voted "Yes" % of total electorate [19]
Crimean ASSR 54.1937 (with a 60% turnout of voters in all Crimea [20] )
Cherkasy Oblast 96.0387
Chernihiv Oblast 93.7485
Chernivtsi Oblast 92.7881
Dnipropetrovsk Oblast 90.3674
Donetsk Oblast 83.9064
Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast 98.4294
Kharkiv Oblast 86.3365
Kherson Oblast 90.1375
Khmelnytskyi Oblast 96.3090
Kiev Oblast 95.5284
Kirovohrad Oblast 93.8883
Luhansk Oblast 83.8668
Lviv Oblast 97.4693
Mykolayiv Oblast 89.4575
Odessa Oblast 85.3864
Poltava Oblast 94.9387
Rivne Oblast 95.9689
Sumy Oblast 92.6182
Ternopil Oblast 98.6796
Vinnytsia Oblast 95.4387
Volyn Oblast 96.3290
Zakarpattia Oblast 92.5977
Zaporizhzhia Oblast 90.6673
Zhytomyr Oblast 95.0686
Kiev City 92.8775
Sevastopol City 57.0740 [20] (with a 60% turnout of voters in all Crimea [20] )
National Total90.3276 [21]

See also

Lesser Coat of Arms of Ukraine.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Flag of Ukraine.svg Ukraineportal

Related Research Articles

Politics of Belarus

The politics of Belarus takes place in a framework of a presidential republic with a bicameral parliament. The President of Belarus is the head of state. Executive power is exercised by the government, at its top sits a prime minister, appointed by the President. Legislative power is de jure vested in the bicameral parliament, the National Assembly, however the president may enact decrees that are executed the same way as laws, for undisputed time. Belarus's declaration of independence on 27 July 1990, did not stem from long-held political aspirations but from reactions to domestic and foreign events. Ukraine's declaration of independence, in particular, led the leaders of then Belarusian SSR to realize that the Soviet Union was on the brink of dissolving, which it did.

Donetsk Oblast Oblast in Ukraine

The Donetsk Oblast, also referred to as Donechyna, is an oblast (province) of eastern Ukraine. It is the most populated oblast, with around 4.5 million residents. Its administrative center is Donetsk; however, its Regional State Administration has been temporarily relocated to Kramatorsk because of the ongoing crisis in Donetsk. Historically, the region is an important part of the Donbas region. Until November 1961, it bore the name Stalino Oblast as Donetsk was then named "Stalino", in honour of Joseph Stalin. As part of the De-Stalinization process, it was renamed as its administrative center after Siversky Donets, the main artery of East Ukraine.

1991 Soviet coup détat attempt attempted coup détat against Mikhail Gorbachevs government

The 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt, also known as the August Coup, was an attempt made by members of the government of the USSR to take control of the country from Soviet President and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. The coup leaders were hard-line members of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) who were opposed to Gorbachev's reform program and the new union treaty that he had negotiated which decentralized much of the central government's power to the republics. They were opposed, mainly in Moscow, by a short but effective campaign of civil resistance led by Russian president Boris Yeltsin, who had been both an ally and critic of Gorbachev. Although the coup collapsed in only two days and Gorbachev returned to power, the event destabilized the USSR and is widely considered to have contributed to both the demise of the CPSU and the dissolution of the USSR.

Belovezha Accords agreement that declared dissolution of the USSR by its founder states (denunciation of 1922 Treaty on the Creation of the USSR) and established the CIS

The Belovezha Accords are the agreement that declared the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as effectively ceasing to exist and established the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in its place as a successor entity. It was signed at the state dacha near Viskuli in Belovezhskaya Pushcha on December 8, 1991, by the leaders of three of the four republics-signatories of the Treaty on the Creation of the USSR – Russian President Boris Yeltsin and First Deputy Prime Minister of RSFSR/Russian Federation Gennady Burbulis, Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk and Prime Minister of Ukraine Vitold Fokin, Belarusian Parliament Chairman Stanislav Shushkevich and Prime Minister of Belarus Vyacheslav Kebich. The original accord could not be found as of 2013.

Union of Sovereign States concept

The Union of Sovereign States was the proposed name of a reorganization of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics into a new confederation. Proposed by the then President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, the proposal was an attempt to avert an end to the Soviet Union. The proposal was never implemented in the wake of the August Coup in 1991 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union ultimately occurred on December 26 of that year. The overall proposal was resurrected as the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), although as a regional organization, not a confederation.

1991 Ukrainian presidential election election

Presidential elections were held in Ukraine on 1 December 1991, the first direct presidential elections in the country's history. Leonid Kravchuk, the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada and de facto acting president, ran as an independent candidate and was elected with 61.6% of the vote.

Referendums in Transnistria

Referendums in Transnistria, according to the Transnistrian Constitution, are one of the lawful forms of expression of people's will.

Eastern Ukraine geographic region

Eastern Ukraine or East Ukraine generally refers to territories of Ukraine east of the Dnieper river, particularly Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts. Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhia Oblasts sometimes are also regarded as Eastern Ukraine. In regard to traditional territories the area encompasses portions of the southern Sloboda Ukraine, Donbas, the western Azov Littoral (Pryazovia).

1991 Georgian independence referendum

An independence referendum was held in the Republic of Georgia on 31 March 1991. It was approved by 99.5% of voters.

The first relatively free election to the Supreme Soviet (Rada) held in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic took place in several stages, from March 4 to March 18, 1990. The elections were held to elect deputies to the republic's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada. Simultaneously, elections of local provincial ("oblast'") councils also took place in their respective administrative divisions.

Post-Soviet transition in Ukraine

The post-Soviet transition in Ukraine was established following the country's independence in 1991 up until the adoption of its constitution in 1996.

1991 Soviet Union referendum

A referendum on the future of the Soviet Union was held on 17 March 1991. The question put to voters was

Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic Republic in the USSR (1922–1991) and sovereign state (1917–1922 and 1990–1991)

The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, previously known as the Russian Soviet Republic and the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, as well as being unofficially known as the Russian Federation, Soviet Russia, or simply Russia, was an independent state from 1917 to 1922, and afterwards the largest, most populous and most economically developed of the 15 Soviet socialist republics of the Soviet Union (USSR) from 1922 to 1990, then a sovereign part of the Soviet Union with priority of Russian laws over Union-level legislation in 1990 and 1991, during the last two years of the existence of the USSR. The Russian Republic comprised sixteen smaller constituent units of autonomous republics, five autonomous oblasts, ten autonomous okrugs, six krais and forty oblasts. Russians formed the largest ethnic group. The capital of the Russian SFSR was Moscow and the other major urban centers included Leningrad, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod and Samara.

Chicken Kiev speech 1991 speech by George H. W. Bush in Ukraine

The Chicken Kiev speech is the nickname for a speech given by the United States president George H. W. Bush in Kiev, Ukraine, on August 1, 1991, 3 weeks before the Declaration of Independence of Ukraine and 4 months before the December independence referendum in which 92.26% Ukrainians voted to withdraw from the Soviet Union, in which Bush cautioned against "suicidal nationalism". 145 days after the speech, the Soviet Union collapsed, partially pushed by Ukraine. The speech was written by Condoleezza Rice—later Secretary of State under President George W. Bush—when she was in charge of Soviet and Eastern European affairs for the first President Bush. It outraged Ukrainian nationalists and American conservatives, with the conservative New York Times columnist William Safire calling it the "Chicken Kiev speech" in protest at what he saw as its "colossal misjudgment" for the very weak tone and miscalculation.

Dissolution of the Soviet Union Process leading to the late-1991 breakup of the USSR

The dissolution of the Soviet Union occurred on 26 December 1991, officially granting self-governing independence to the Republics of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). It was a result of the declaration number 142-Н of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union. The declaration acknowledged the independence of the former Soviet republics and created the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), although five of the signatories ratified it much later or did not do so at all. On the previous day, 25 December, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, the eighth and final leader of the USSR, resigned, declared his office extinct and handed over its powers—including control of the Soviet nuclear missile launching codes—to Russian President Boris Yeltsin. That evening at 7:32 p.m., the Soviet flag was lowered from the Kremlin for the last time and replaced with the pre-revolutionary Russian flag.

1991 Ukrainian sovereignty referendum

The Ukrainian sovereignty referendum was conducted on March 17, 1991, as part of the first and only Soviet Union referendum. Throughout the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, voters were asked two questions, with an additional question attached to the ballot in the historical region of Galicia which includes the Ukrainian provinces of Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv, and Ternopil.

Presidency of Boris Yeltsin Boris Yeltsins years as President of Russia

The Russian Presidency of Boris Yeltsin, was the executive branch of the federal government of the Russian Federation from June 12, 1991 to December 31, 1999.


  1. Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, page 1976 ISBN   9783832956097
  2. 1 2 Nohlen & Stöver, p1985
  3. Historic vote for independence, The Ukrainian Weekly (1 September 1991)
  4. 1 2 3 Independence – over 90% vote yes in referendum; Kravchuk elected president of Ukraine, The Ukrainian Weekly (8 December 1991)
  5. Ukraine and Russia: The Post-Soviet Transition by Roman Solchanyk, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2000, ISBN   0742510182 (page 100)
  6. Canadian Yearbook of International Law, Vol 30, 1992, University of British Columbia Press, 1993, ISBN   9780774804387 (page 371)
  7. Russia, Ukraine, and the Breakup of the Soviet Union by Roman Szporluk, Hoover Institution Press, 2000, ISBN   0817995420 (page 355
  8. Russia's Revolution from Above, 1985–2000: Reform, Transition, and Revolution in the Fall of the Soviet Communist Regime by Gordon M. Hahn, Transaction Publishers, 2001, ISBN   0765800497 (page 482)
  9. A Guide to the United States' History of Recognition, Diplomatic, and Consular Relations, by Country, since 1776: Ukraine, Office of the Historian
  10. The Limited Partnership: Building a Russian-US Security Community by James E. Goodby and Benoit Morel, Oxford University Press, 1993, ISBN   0198291612 (page 48)
  11. Ukrainian Independence, Worldwide News Ukraine
  12. NEWSBRIEFS FROM UKRAINE, The Ukrainian Weekly (8 December 1991)
  13. 1 2 Russia's New Politics: The Management of a Postcommunist Society by Stephen K. White, Cambridge University Press, 1999, ISBN   0521587379 (page 240)
  14. Citizens in the Making in Post-Soviet States by Olena Nikolayenko, Routledge, 2001, ISBN   0415596041 (page 101)
  15. Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation by Robert A. Saunders & Vlad Strukov, Scarecrow Press, 2010, ISBN   0810854759 (page 75)
  16. 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)
  17. 1 2 3 Ukrainian Nationalism in the 1990s: A Minority Faith by Andrew Wilson, Cambridge University Press, 1996, ISBN   0521574579 (page 128)
  18. The Return: Russia's Journey from Gorbachev to Medvedev by Daniel Treisman, Free Press, 2012, ISBN   1416560726 (page 178)
  19. Ukrainian Nationalism in the 1990s: A Minority Faith by Andrew Wilson, Cambridge University Press, 1996, ISBN   0521574579 (page 129)
  20. 1 2 3 Russians in the Former Soviet Republics by Pål Kolstø, Indiana University Press, 1995, ISBN   978-0-253-32917-2 (page 191)
    Ukraine and Russia:Representations of the Past by Serhii Plokhy, University of Toronto Press, 2008, ISBN   978-0-8020-9327-1 (page 184)
  21. Post-Communist Ukraine by Bohdan Harasymiw, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, 2002, ISBN   1895571448