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Ukrainian Independence

Reforms initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985 were first controlled by the state party; but with the expansion of publicity (“glasnost”) there remained even less people who could find any harmony in relations between the State and society. Communist ideology lost its authority, the society was quickly politicized. These processes immediately found political response in Ukraine. There began the actions of protest against closing the schools with education in Ukrainian, against forcing out the national language from the sphere of state management, book-publishing and mass media. In November 1988, the first mass meeting took place in Kyiv which was devoted to the problems of ecology, where the republic’s leaders were blamed for concealing information about the after-effects of the Chernobyl catastrophe.

In 1989, the political strikes burst out in Donbas, and the People’s Movement of Ukraine appeared in Kyiv. In the spring of 1989, the first free elections (after 1917) were held in the USSR which lead to the appearance of a new centre of power in a form of the two-level representative system: the Congress of People’s Deputies of the USSR and permanently acting the Supreme Council of the USSR formed at the Congress. The party dictatorship and the entire totalitarian system fell to pieces before long. On the evening of August 19, 1991, the conservatives of the central party-state management made an attempt of the state upheaval, striving to turn the country to its pre-1985 life. The faled putsch attempt triggered the final dissolution of the Soviet state. On August 24, the extraordinary session of the Supreme Council of the Ukrainian SSR approved The Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine. The democratic system went through its first serious trial in June 1994 when, as a result of free elections, the power was given up to Leonid Kuchma, the second President of Ukraine. He was re-elected in 1999 to another five-year term with 56 % of the vote.

In March 1990, elections were held for the Supreme Council of the Ukrainian SSR and local councils. A lot of new political figures, the adherents of reforms, appeared on the scene in political life. On July 16, 1990 the Parliament adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine. In the last days of August 1991, they adopted the edict about temporal cessation and then the prohibition of activities of the Communist Party of Ukraine. On December 1, 1991, the referendum on confirmation of The Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine took place. There was a positive response from 90.3 % of the population who took part in the referendum. The elections of the first President of Ukraine were also held, where Leonid Kravchuk won. The response of the world community to the results of the national referendum was unexpectedly unanimous: for December 1991, the independence of Ukraine was recognized by 68 states, and in 1992 it was recognized by 64 states. The constitutional process, which began in July of 1990 by adopting the Declaration on State Sovereignty of Ukraine became the most important element in the creation of the state. This document ratified the principles of sovereignty, democracy, inviolability of the territory of Ukraine, power division into legislative, executive and court branches, equality of citizens and state guarantee of their rights and liberties. The Constitution of Ukraine was adopted on June 28, 1996 after a long-term political struggle. The Constitution created a strong legislative foundation for the regulation of public relations, development of sovereignty and a democratic state.

The 2004 Presidential elections in Ukraine marred by fraud resulted in large-scale mass protests and demonstrations named the Orange Revolution. The mass-protests resulted in the second run-off election was ordered by Ukraine’s Supreme Court for December 26, 2004.

The winner of the 2005 election Viktor Yushchenko was inaugurated into office as the third President of Ukraine on January 23, 2005. One of the important results of Yushchenko’s coming to the office was the establishing in Ukraine the parliamentary-presidential system of government.

By the time of the presidential election of 2009, Yushchenko and Tymoshenko — allies during the Orange Revolution — had become bitter enemies. As a result of the presidential run-up Yanukovych’s pro-Russia party had regained power after five years and the Orange Revolution of 2004 was halted.

The 2010 presidential elections in Ukraine resulted in victory of Viktor Yanukovych, under whose rule Ukraine yet again changed its political system to presidentially-parliamentary. February 25th, 2011, marked the first anniversary of Viktor Yanukovych’s presidency.