RUKH was a mass civic and political movement during the perestroika years. The program of the “Popular Movement for Perestroika” was published in the newspaper ‘Literaturna Ukraina’ [‘Literary Ukraine’]  on 17 February 1989. The program emphasised the independence of the movement from direct political control, however acknowledged the general leading role of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.  The document was orientated not only towards the national, but also the democratic movement.  The first regional organizations of Rukh were formed in Lviv and in Kyiv in the spring and summer of 1989, with more than 500 local branches having sprung up by autumn. From 8-10 September 1989 a founding congress of Rukh took place which concluded the process of forming the first national organization which offered an alternative to the Communist Party of Ukraine.  The concluding documents from the congress no longer spoke of the leading role of the Soviet Communist Party.  The program adopted by the congress demanded the transformation of the USSR into a confederation of states.

The Shestydesyatnyk poet Ivan DRACH was elected RUKH’s president while former political prisoner M. HORYN became the head of the secretariat. At the elections of 1990 RUKH figures were voted in to representative bodies at all levels, and in Western Ukraine they headed regional power structures. By 1990 RUKH had become the most influential political force which was to play a key role in the passing of the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine. From then on RUKH had a significant faction in all sessions of the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament). RUKH split in 1999 into two organizations – Narodny Rukh Ukrainy (NRU) and the Ukrainian People’s Party, which are presently not very large political parties.