Independence: a timeline

In the wake of the policies of glasnost, perestroika and demokratizatsia announced by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, there is ferment throughout the USSR. Below is a timeline (continued from last week's issue) of key events leading up to the proclamation of Ukraine's independence on August 24, 1991, affirmed by a nationwide referendum on December 1, 1991.


January 21, 1990 Rukh organizes a 300-mile human chain between Kyiv, Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk. Hundreds of thousands join hands to commemorate the proclamation of Ukrainian independence in 1918 and the reunification of Ukrainian lands one year later.
January 23, 1990 The Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church holds its first synod since its liquidation by the Soviets in 1946 at a bogus synod. The gathering declares the 1946 synod uncanonical and invalid.
February 9, 1990 Rukh is officially registered by the Ukrainian SSR Council of Ministers. However, the registration comes too late for Rukh to put forth its own candidates for the parliamentary and local elections on March 4.
March 4, 1990 Elections to the Ukrainian SSR People's Deputies. Candidates from the Democratic Bloc win landslide victories in western Ukrainian oblasts. A majority of the seats are forced into run-off elections.
March 18, 1990 Democratic candidates score further impressive victories in the run-off. The Democratic Bloc now holds about 90 seats in the new Parliament.
April 6, 1990 The Lviv City Council votes to return St. George Cathedral to the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church. The Russian Orthodox Church refuses to yield.
April 29-30, 1990 The Ukrainian Helsinki Union is disbanded to form the Ukrainian Republican Party.
May 15, 1990 The new Parliament convenes. The bloc of conservative Communists holds 239 seats; the Democratic Bloc, which is now evolved into the National Council, has 125 deputies.
June 4, 1990 Two candidates remain in the protracted race for Parliament chairman. The chief of the Communist Party of Ukraine, Volodymyr Ivashko, is elected with 60 percent of the vote as more than 100 opposition deputies boycott the election.
June 5-6, 1990 Metropolitan Mstyslav of the U.S.-based Ukrainian Orthodox Church is elected patriarch of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church during that Church's first holy synod. The UAOC declares its full independence from the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church, which in March had granted autonomy to its exarchate in Ukraine headed by Metropolitan Filaret.
June 9, 1990 British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher addresses the Parliament and reduces Ukraine to colonial status within the USSR. "The government and Parliament of Great Britain maintains direct relations with independent countries. With Ukraine relations can only be the same as those, let's say with California and Quebec," she said.
June 22, 1990 Volodymyr Ivashko withdraws his candidacy for chief of the Communist Party of Ukraine in view of his new position in Parliament. Stanislav Hurenko is elected first secretary of the CPU.
July 11, 1990 Volodymyr Ivashko resigns from his post as chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament after he is elected deputy general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The Parliament accepts the resignation a week later, on July 18.
July 16, 1990 The Declaration on State Sovereignty of Ukraine is overwhelmingly approved by Parliament. The vote is 355 for and four against. The people's deputies vote 339-5 to proclaim July 16 a national holiday in Ukraine.
July 23, 1990 Leonid Kravchuk is elected to replace Volodymyr Ivashko as Parliament chairman.
July 30, 1990 The Parliament adopts a resolution on military service which demands that Ukrainian soldiers serving "in regions of national conflict such as Armenia and Azerbaijan" be returned to Ukrainian territory by October 1.
August 1, 1990 The Parliament votes overwhelmingly to close down the Chornobyl nuclear power plant.
August 3, 1990 Parliament adopts a law on economic sovereignty of the Ukrainian republic.
August 19, 1990 The first Ukrainian Catholic liturgy in 44 years is celebrated at St. George Cathedral. Hundreds of thousands attend.
September 5-7, 1990 The International Symposium on the Great Famine of 1932-1933 is held in Kyiv.
September 8, 1990 The first "Youth for Christ" rally since 1933 is held in Lviv with 40,000 participants.
September 28-30, 1990 The Green Party of Ukraine holds its founding congress.
September 30, 1990 Nearly 100,000 march in Kyiv to protest the new union treaty proposed by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
October 1, 1990 Parliament reconvenes amid mass protests calling for the resignation of its chairman, Leonid Kravchuk, and Prime Minister Vitalii Masol, a leftover from the previous regime. Students erect a tent city on October Revolution Square where they continue the protest.
October 17, 1990 Prime Minister Vitalii Masol resigns.
October 20, 1990 Patriarch Mstyslav I of Kyiv and all Ukraine arrives at St. Sophia Cathedral, ending a 46-year banishment from his homeland.
October 23, 1990 The Parliament votes to delete Article 6 of the Ukrainian Constitution which refers to the "leading role" of the Communist Party and adopts other measures to bring the Constitution in line with the Declaration on State Sovereignty.
October 25-28, 1990 Rukh holds its second congress and declares that its principal goal is no longer "perebudova" but the "renewal of independent statehood for Ukraine."
October 28, 1990 UAOC faithful, supported by Ukrainian Catholics, demonstrate near St. Sophia Cathedral as newly elected Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Aleksei and Metropolitan Filaret celebrate liturgy at the shrine.
November 1, 1990 Leaders of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, respectively, Metropolitan Volodymyr Sterniuk and Patriarch Mstyslav meet in Lviv during anniversary commemorations of the 1918 proclamation of the Western Ukrainian National Republic.
November 18, 1990 The Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church enthrones Mstyslav I as Patriarch of Kyiv and all Ukraine during ceremonies at St. Sophia Cathedral.
November 18, 1990 Canada announces that its consul general to Kyiv will be Ukrainian Canadian Nestor Gayowsky.
November 19, 1990 The United States announces that its consul to Kyiv will be Ukrainian American John Stepanchuk. Mr. Stepanchuk arrives in Kyiv in early 1991 to set up the consulate. Consul General Jon Gundersen arrives soon thereafter.
November 19, 1990 The chairmen of the Ukrainian and Russian parliaments, respectively, Leonid Kravchuk and Boris Yeltsin, sign an unprecedented 10-year bilateral pact between the two republics.
early December 1990 The Party for the Democratic Rebirth of Ukraine is formed.
December 15, 1990 The Democratic Party of Ukraine is founded.
March 17, 1991 A union-wide referendum on the preservation of the USSR is approved in Ukraine by 70.2 percent of the voters. At the same time, however, 80.2 percent approve another referendum question posed in Ukraine, indicating that they want their country to be "part of a union of Soviet sovereign states on the principles of the Declaration on State Sovereignty of Ukraine."
March 30, 1991 Cardinal Myroslav Lubachivsky returns to Ukraine after a 53-year forced absence.
April 7, 1991 Cardinal Myroslav Lubachivsky celebrates Easter liturgy at St. George Cathedral in Lviv.
April 26, 1991 The day is proclaimed a national day of mourning in Ukraine. Twenty-five events, from memorial services to conferences and a requiem concert, are held between April 21 and 27 to mark the solemn fifth anniversary of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster.
August 1, 1991 President George Bush addresses the Ukrainian Parliament and cautions against "suicidal nationalism," thus making clear his reservations about Ukrainian statehood. The address comes to be known as the "Chicken Kiev" speech.
August 19-21, 1991 A coup d'etat is attempted in the USSR, but soon fails.
August 24, 1991 The Ukrainian Parliament proclaims Ukraine an independent state, but notes that this matter is subject to a nationwide referendum.
August 28, 1991 A delegation from the Russian SFSR and the USSR Supreme Soviet rushes to Kyiv to resolve an "emergency situation" in the wake of Ukraine's independence proclamation. The talks result in a communiqué pledging cooperation to avert "the uncontrolled disintegration of the union state" through creation of "interim inter-state structures" for an undefined transitional period.
September 9, 1991 Dismantling begins of the huge statue of Lenin in Kyiv's October Revolution Square, now renamed Independence Square.
September 9, 1991 Canada's Consulate General in Kyiv is opened.
September 22-
October 2, 1991
Parliament Chairman Kravchuk visits Canada and the United States and meets with Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and President George Bush.
September 23, 1991 The Ukrainian Parliament votes to dissolve the KGB and create the State Security Service.
September 27, 1991 The United States announces that Ukraine will be the first former Soviet republic to benefit from the Peace Corps program.
September 29-
October 5, 1991
A week-long series of events in Kyiv mourns the mass killings of Jews, Ukrainians and others by the Nazis at Babyn Yar.
October 29, 1991 The Ukrainian Parliament votes to shut down the Chornobyl plant no later than 1993.
November 1991 The film "Holod '33" (Famine '33) wins first prize at the Kyiv Film Festival and premieres on Ukrainian television on the eve of the nationwide referendum on Ukraine's independence.
December 1, 1991 The population of Ukraine approves the August 24, 1991, declaration of independence with an astounding 90.32 percent of the vote. Leonid Kravchuk is elected the first president of newly independent Ukraine by 62 percent of the voters.
December 1, 1991 Poland becomes the first country to grant diplomatic recognition to independent Ukraine.
December 2, 1991 Canada becomes the first Western country to establish diplomatic relations with independent Ukraine.
December 5, 1991 Leonid Kravchuk is sworn in as Ukraine's president.
December 7, 1991 At a Slavic summit in Miensk, Belarus, Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian leaders announce the formation of a commonwealth of the three Slavic republics, leaving the door open for other former Soviet republics to join.
December 25, 1991 President George Bush announces that the United States recognizes the independence of Ukraine.
December 29, 1991 The Ukrainian Weekly's year in review issue reports that at press time 25 countries have extended formal recognition to Ukraine.



Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, August 26, 2001, No. 34, Vol. LXIX

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