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December 1, 2011

Ukraine Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Independence Referendum

Kyiv, December 1, 2011. Twenty years ago today a referendum determined the future of the independent Ukrainian state. Over 90 percent of the voters supported the independence of Ukraine. Elections of the first president of the state took place simultaneously with the referendum on the independence of Ukraine – on December 1, 1991.

Traditionally, sociological institutions in Ukraine annually conduct research to find out whether the citizens of Ukraine still support the independence of their state. According to the poll by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology held in November 2011, 82.6 percent support the independence of Ukraine.

Most media outlets in Ukraine dedicate their stories to the anniversary of the historic referendum that took place on December 1, 1991. BBC Ukraine launches a themed online broadcast with such outstanding guests as Leonid Kravchuk, the first president of Ukraine, several members of parliament, and Taras Chornovil, the son of the runner-up of the 1991 presidential elections in Ukraine – Viacheslav Chornovil. The politicians will discuss the development of the new Ukrainian state and what they would have changed having a chance to remake their 1991 political decisions.

Ukraine was a part of the Soviet Union between 1922 and 1991. Formally, while being a member of the Soviet Union, Ukraine was a sovereign state – a Soviet Socialist Republic. In reality, Ukrainian Soviet authorities subordinated to the central governing authorities in Moscow and had no say on most political and economic issues.

The process of Ukraine’s emancipation from the USSR began in 1990. The Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine was adopted on July 16, 1990. The document provided main principles for the future independent state of Ukraine and declared democracy as a form of government for the future independent Ukraine.

On August 24, 1991, the parliament of Ukraine adopted the Act of Independence – a cornerstone document that established Ukrainian independence. On December 1, 2011, 84 percent of the citizens of Ukraine (which at the time equaled almost 32 million) came to the polling stations across the country and expressed their opinion on the Act of Independence as well as voted for Leonid Kravchuk to serve as the first president of Ukraine. The referendum held twenty years ago was the final legal step to the independence of Ukraine.