Recent Political Developments

On August 24, 1991, the Extraordinary Session of the Verkhovna Rada of the UkrSSR of the twelfth convocation approved the Act on proclaiming independence of Ukraine, and a number of enactments on the political situation in Ukraine and urgent measures to create conditions of preventing a military coup detat, on departisation of state bodies, institutions and organisations, on military formations in Ukraine. Concurrently it adopted Law on granting additional powers to the Head of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. On August 30, 1991, the Verkhovna Rada approved resolution on imposing a ban on activities of the Communist Party of Ukraine. The age of independence commenced in the new history of Ukraine. Ukraine faced urgent problems of state building immediately after the proclamation of independence: creation of appropriate administrative bodies and institutions, transition from totalitarian to democratic and civil society, from the command-administrative economy to free market, securing conditions for the development of all nations residing in the Ukrainian lands, winning international recognition, integration into the world community, etc. Ukraine was recognised by Poland and Canada on December 2, 1991, by Lithuania and Latvia on December 4, by Russia and Bulgaria on December 5, by Sweden on December 19, by Norway on December 24, and by the United States of America on December 25. During the first year of its independence Ukraine was recognised by more than 140 powers of the world. Along with international recognition Ukraine was engaged in an active process of state building. On October 8, 1991, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine passed the Law on citizenship. The right to become a citizen of Ukraine was granted to every person who resided in its territory during the law was proclaimed. Declaration of the rights of nationalities of Ukraine was proclaimed on November 1, 1991. It guaranteed all the peoples and national groups living in the territory of Ukraine equal political, economic, social and cultural rights. On December 1, 1991, the election of the first president of independent Ukraine was held in Ukraine. Out of six candidates Leonid Kravchuk proved the winner. Simultaneously, the All-Ukrainian referendum was conducted on which more than 90% of participants voted for Ukraine’s independence. On January 15 and 28, 1992, the supreme legislative body of the country confirmed the national anthem and flag, and on February 19 – the small emblem of Ukraine. On June 25, 1992, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine passed the Law on national minorities of Ukraine according to which citizens of all nationalities were guaranteed the rights to free development of national consciousness and self-determination. Political life livened up to a considerable extent. The process of creating political parties continued. In 1994 the number of registered parties amounted to over 30. However, the young state met with serious economic problems. The established economic ties were breaking, the problems of power supply became more acute. A swift fall of production volumes took place in the Ukrainian industry which in Soviet times was closely linked with the All-Union military-industrial complex. Hyperinflation was reigning. International problems arose as well. Difficult and tense negotiations about the fate of the Black Sea Navy and the status of the city of Sevastopol, oil and gas supply, liabilities and assets of the former USSR, etc. were carried on between Ukraine and Russia from 1992 through 1994. Consultations continued con cerning the fate of nuclear potential which remained in Ukraine from the Soviet times. On January 14, 1994, in Moscow, Presidents of Ukraine, USA and Russia signed an agreement on liquidation of nuclear weapons in Ukraine, and on payment of compensation for the cost of uranium in nuclear launching charges deployed in its territory. In summer 1994, Leonid Kuchma won the second presidential elections in Ukraine. On October 11, 1994, he proclaimed the program of economic reforms at the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. During 1995, due to severe monetary policy, inflation was overcome. In September 2-16, 1996, money reform was successfully carried out in Ukraine, the national currency – hryvnia – was introduced into money circulation. Conversion and reori-entation of military industry to production of consumer goods was carried on in Ukraine with the assistance of foreign partners. Land reform and privatisation of enterprises began. Considerable success was achieved in thev international arena. On November 16, 1994, Ukraine joined the Agreement on nonproliferation of nuclear weapons on condition that it is given guarantees of security on the part of nuclear powers. In autumn 1995, Ukraine was admitted to the Council of Europe. On July 9, 1997, a Charter was signed on distinctive partnership between Ukraine and NATO at the summit meeting of the North Atlantic alliance in Madrid. Large-scale economic relations with Russia were restored. During the 90s Ukraine took an active part in the activities of a number of international institutions, in particular in peacemaking missions under the aegis of the UN in Bosnia and Near East. In September 1997, the first cosmonaut of independent Ukraine Leonid Kadeniuk took part in the space trip as a member of international crew. The building up of state institutes and introduction of the norms of democratic society continued in the second half of the 90s. On June 28, 1996, after a long and strained constitutional process, the supreme legislative body of the country approved the Constitution of Ukraine. The Constitutional Court of Ukraine began working in January 1997. In November 1999, at the third presidential elections in Ukraine, Leonid Kuchma was the winner again. Ukraine continued to pursue an active foreign policy, cooperated with international institutions and organisations. In September 2000, the Ukrainian delegation headed by President Leonid Kuchma took part in the UN Millennium Summit in New York. International economic and scientific connections of Ukraine, in particular in the sphere of outer space, continued to spread. Ukraine’s participation in the international program ‘Sea Launch’ was an example of successful cooperation in the field of space exploration. For the first time during the period of independence positive indices of the growth of the economy were achieved in 2000-2001. The closure, on December 15, 2000, of Chornobyl APS, where the world greatest nuclear accident had happened, was a gesture of good will and responsibility for ecological safety of the whole planet. Maintaining of civil peace and inter-national concord in complicated conditions of the transition period is an important achievement of independent Ukraine. Ukraine has entered the 21st century as a recognised member of civilised countries of the world. This gives grounds to hope and believe that its future will be brighter than its past.