Ukrainian Independence Day: what now for the ex-Soviet state?

24 Aug 2018


The declaration of independence between Ukraine and the USSR was created officially on the 24th of August 1991, though it was officially recognised on the 22nd of January that Ukraine wanted independence, and were likely to get it.


An annual military parade takes place every year in Kyiv in front of the President, Prime Minister, members of the cabinet and foreign dignitaries that are invited. During independence day, supporters of Ukraine and Ukrainian nationals wear a traditional Ukrainian blouse, called a Vyshyvanka.


On the same day as the independence referendum, Ukraine, as an independent state, was given the choice to elect its first democratically elected president. Leonid Kravchuck, who was the head of state when they were part of the USSR, was elected to serve as the first president of the independent Ukraine. Soon after, the independent state of Ukraine was recognised, the USSR empire started to break away much quicker. By the following week, all former soviet republics, bar Russia and Kazakhstan, had formally left the Soviet Union. The Union as a whole was officially dissolved on the 26th December 1991.


An unsettled future for Ukraine?

In the decades that followed, there have been a number of long and drawn out protests. There was one name that stuck through all of these protests as something in common: Viktor Yanukovych. His team was alleged to have tampered with his opponent of the presidential election 13 years post referendum by poisoning him with Dioxide.


The opponent, who ended up being the eventual winner after a bitter legal battle and a revolution that swept the country, was Viktor Yushenko. In 2005, 14 years post referendum, Kyiv was due to host Eurovision after Ruslana’s win in Istanbul the previous year. This didn’t threaten their hosting duties, and in 2006, Ruslana was elected to serve in the Ukrainian parliament. She resigned on the 23rd of November 2007.


2013 saw the start of the deadliest mass protests in recent times for Ukraine. The protests were known as EuroMaidan as the president at the time, Viktor Yanukovych, failed to sign an EU-Association agreement that he had been promising for some time.


When the news got out that he did this, students started protesting. It is this student movement that lead to the creation of EuroMaidan in Kyiv. EuroMaidan officially kicked off on Maidan Nezalezhnosti on the 21st of November 2013, and went on until 23rd February 2014, with minor protests, mainly in Dnipropetrovsk and Kharkiv happening until 2nd of December 2014. There are many ongoing court cases in different municipalities relating to the EuroMaidan protests.


Ukrainian presidential elections 2019

Ukraine are due a set of presidential elections in 2019, however, due to previous actions of Russia in other world elections such as Brexit and the American Presidential election, there are fears of meddling reprisals in Ukraine. The current president, who signed the EU-Association agreement, Petro Poroshenko is aiming to be elected for a second time is up against another prominent Ukrainian political figure, Yulia Tymoshenko.


According to, it is likely that this presidential election will need to go either a second round, or a run off against the final 2 candidates. It is widely reported that the 2 candidates running off will be the incumbent president, and Tymoshenko. Whoever wins the run off will have to serve in parallel to the current Prime Minister, Volodymyr Groysman and former Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, plus the bloc of MPs lead by Poroshenko.


The current names who have expressed their intention to run includes Poroshenko, Tymoshenko, Nadiya Savchenko (however her ongoing legal case against the Ukrainian state will make her ineligible), Andriy Sadovyi (current mayor of Lviv) and Anatoliy Hrytsenko (former defence minister). However, the only candidate to date that has officially declared that they are in the race is Tymoshenko, and she currently leads most of the opinion polls.


With a deeply unsettled past, and potentially an even more unsettled future, one question remains: what next for Ukraine?


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