The purpose of the article is to analyze the political circumstances in which the preparation and holding of the Soviet Union referendum in 1991 on the territory of the Ukrainian SSR took place as prerequisites for the containment of disintegration processes in the Soviet Union and its preservation as a union state. The research methodology is based on the principles of historicism, systemicity, scientific objectivity, as well as the application of general scientific (analysis, synthesis, deduction, induction, generalization), so special historical (problem historical, historical systemic, problem chronological, historical and typological) methods. The research novelty of the study is the attempt, for the first time in Ukrainian historiography, to consider the political processes that took place in the Ukrainian SSR around the March 1991 plebiscite on the reform of the Soviet Union, the signing of a new Union Treaty and the preservation of the Soviet regime, as well as to study the activities of the political forces of the republic to strengthen political and economic independence of the republic. Conclusions. In December 1990, the Soviet leadership, concerned about the sovereignty processes in the union republics, succeeded in political and legal measures aimed at reforming the state political structure of the USSR. The legal instrument that would legitimize the existence of a union state was the Soviet Union referendum in March 1991. The political transformations of Moscow Center caused a sharp political debate in the Ukrainian society between supporters of the preservation of the USSR and supporters of Ukraine’s state independence. The proposed version of the Union Treaty by M. Gorbachev was strongly criticized by the anti-communist opposition and received full support from the Communist Party leadership. In order to defend their own political initiatives, democratic forces resorted to mass protests in the republic and the formation of a broad anti-Kremlin front at the All-Union level. Under the influence of democratic forces, the vector of public opinion in Ukraine gradually shifted towards supporting real sovereignty of the republic. Because of the opposition of the conservative part of the parliament, a democratic parliamentary opposition was unable to block the holding of a union referendum on the preservation of the «renewed federation» or to hold a poll in its place concerning the full state independence of Ukraine. In parliamentary polemics, a political compromise between the democratic forces and the «sovereign communist» part of the communist majority of parliament was achieved in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Holding a parallel republican poll minimized the political and legal consequences of the results of the March referendum in 1991 for the political life of the republic. Despite the support of the majority of the referendum members for the idea of preserving the USSR, the results of the Republican plebiscite have shown the desire of Ukrainian society to increase the state status of the Ukrainian SSR.

Ключові слова

Soviet Union, Soviet Union referendum, Union Treaty, sovereignty, «renewed federation», People’s Council, parliamentary opposition.

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