Former Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk: In 1991 Ukrainians Wanted Independence, but in a Union With Russia

The first president of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk said that in 1991 during the referendum on the confirmation of the “Act of Declaration of the Independence of Ukraine” the population of the country voted for a union with Russia. He made the corresponding statement in an interview with the Bihus.info website.

“Everyone voted, but thought differently. I once took an interest in why they voted so actively, and they said: ‘We thought that it would be an independent Ukraine, but that it would be with Russia’,” said the former president.

According to him, Ukrainians thought of the Act as the country’s greater independence in the economic and social spheres.

“I.e., they didn’t see independence as a separate state, it needs to be known. And what we thought and decided in the Bialowieza Forest – it was about a state. Yes, even if it was about a union state, it was about a state all the same,” concluded Kravchuk.

The “Act of Declaration of the Independence of Ukraine” was approved on August 24th 1991 by an extraordinary session of the Supreme Council of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

During the referendum on the confirmation of the Act that took place on December 1st 1991, 90.32% of voters, or 76.02% of the entire adult population of Ukraine, voted in favour.

Factually the Soviet Union ceased to exist on December 25th 1991 when the president of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev in address to the Soviet people announced the termination of the activity on the president’s post. It was preceded by an agreement signed on December 8th by the heads of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine in which it declared the termination of the existence of the USSR and the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). This act became known in history as the Belavezha Accords.

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At the same time, in March 1991 a referendum on preserving the USSR was held. 76.4% voted in favour. On the basis of the referendum’s results in the spring-summer of 1991 the draft agreement “On the Union of Sovereign Republics” was developed, and its signing was scheduled for August 20th. But it didn’t take place because of an attempted coup on August 19th-21st 1991, which became known in history as the August putsch.

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