About Project

The failed coup in August 1991 hastened the collapse of the Soviet Union and resulted in the birth of its successor states, among them, Ukraine.  The Project chronicles the process by which Ukraine became independent through 69 interviews with political leaders, dissidents, diplomats, journalists, religious leaders, business people, academics and military and intelligence officers who participated in, or were witness to, that process during the period 1988 -1991.

Interviews were filmed in six countries in 1995 and 1996.  The list of interviewees include Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk, Polish President Lech Walesa and US Secretary of State James Baker.

The Project begins by exploring the rise of nationalist movements and citizens’ groups in Ukraine in 1988 and 1989.  It then examines the All-Union Treaty in the summer of 1991, the August 1991 coup attempt in Moscow and the rise of Boris Yeltsin and nationalist sentiment in the Republics and culminates with the Ukrainian referendum on independence in December 1991 and international recognition of Ukraine as a sovereign state.

All 69 interviews have been transcribed and each video has been time-coded so that a person reading the transcript can easily identify a given passage on the corresponding video.

The Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv will act as the repository institution in Ukraine for the video tapes and the transcripts.  These materials are being made available on-line for academic and research purposes only. 

Any use of any video materials for commercial purposes is strictly prohibited.  All intellectual property rights with respect to the video and transcripts remain with the Project and the Ukrainian Catholic University.


Project Structure

The Project was coordinated and managed by Margarita Hewko and Sara Sievers.  Ms. Hewko was based in Kyiv and was the  Executive Producer who coordinated the filming of the interviews and their transcription, editing and time-coding.  Ms. Sievers, based in the United States, coordinated and conducted interviews in the United States and  Ukraine  and managed the Project’s finances and fundraising.


Project Support

The Project directors would like to thank the following individuals and organizations for their financial support and contributions:

Amb. Robert E. Serry
Embassy of The Netherlands in Ukraine 1992-1996

George Chopivsky and
The Yale-Ukraine Initiative at the Yale Center for International and Area Studies

John and Margarita Hewko
Mr. and Mrs. Lubomyr Hewko
The Hewko Family Charitable Foundation

Lubomyr Hajda
Roman Szporluk
The Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute

A special thanks to Viacheslav Chornovil, Dmytro Ponamarchuk and Mykola Veresen for their unwavering support and extraordinary effort in making the Project a reality.

In addition, the Project would not have been possible without the contribution of countless friends and supporters who generously donated their time and talents:

Sam Brown Boris Dackiw Anne Dronnier
Marta Dyczok Natalka Feduschak Chrystia Freeland
Maria Hewko Dani Kaufmann Katerina Khinkulova
Marta Kolomayets Rostislav Khotyn Guenia Kyzyma
Amb. William Miller Suzanne Miller Vitali Portnikov
Andrzej Rybalt Alla Shvets Charlie Sievers
Andriy Slobodian Orest Subtelny Oleksandr Tkachenko
Susan Viets Dmitri Volkov Lucan Way
Danylo Yanevsky Taras Dobko Mykola Stetsyshyn
Petro Didula


And a heartfelt thank you to all of those who agreed to be interviewed.