virtual museum
Dissident movement in Ukraine



The Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine was a state act passed by the Verkhovna Rada of the Ukrainian SSR on 16 July 1990.  The Declaration proclaimed state sovereignty as supremacy, independence, integrity, and indivisibility of Ukraine’s authority within the boundaries of its territory, and its independence and equality in foreign relations. It defined the fundamental principles of self-determination of the Ukrainian people, the rule of the people, the exercising of state authority, establishment of Ukrainian citizenship, economic independence and others. . In the final part, it stated that the Declaration is the basis for a new constitution and laws of Ukraine and determines the positions of the Republic for the purpose of international agreements. The Declaration was the forerunner to the Act of Declaration of Ukrainian Independence on 24 August 1991, affirmed through a national referendum on 1 December 1991.

The Declaration was the result of a surge in the national liberation movement during the years of perestroika. From 1987-1980 in Ukraine different civic (so-called “informal”) associations and political organizations espousing national independence arose and began to function legally.  These included the Ukrainsky kulturolohychny klub [The Ukrainian Cultural Studies Club] which began in Kyiv on 6 August 1987 and the Lion Society in Lviv on 19 October. On 30 December the Ukrainian Helsinki Group renewed its activities with the uncensored journal ‘Ukrainsky visnyk’ [‘Ukrainian Herald’], revived in the summer of 1987, its official publication. On 7 July 1988 the Ukrainian Helsinki Group became the Ukrainian Helsinki Union. On 11-12 February 1989 in Kyiv the founding conference took place of the Ukrainian Language Society. .During the spring the civic associations “Memorial”, “Zeleny svit” [“Green World”] were created, and various youth and student organizations emerged. In September 1989 Narodny Rukh Ukrainy za perebudovu [The Popular Movement of Ukraine for perestroka] (Rukh) was formed.

This new surge in activity in public and political life led first of all to the resignation on 28.09.1989 of V. Shcherbitsky who had effectively ruled Ukraine for 17 years. In 1990 elections were held for Deputies to Councils at all levels on an alternative candidate basis.  Despite the fact that in the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament), members of the Communist Party of Ukraine (“Group 239”, the leader – Oleksandr Moroz) were in the majority, on some questions connected with the sovereign status of the republic, it was possible to observe almost total consensus. The Declaration was passed almost unanimously. 

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