1991 Armenian independence referendum

21 September 1991

Do you agree that the Republic of Armenia should be an independent democratic state outside of the USSR?
Votes %
Yes 2,042,627 99.51%
No 10,002 0.49%
Valid votes 2,052,629 99.80%
Invalid or blank votes 4,129 0.20%
Total votes 2,056,758 100.00%
Registered voters/turnout 2,163,967 95.05%

An independence referendum was held in the Armenia SSR on 21 September 1991 to determine whether to secede from the Soviet Union.[1] It followed a declaration of independence on 23 August 1990.[2] 99.5% of voters voted in favour, with a turnout of 95%.[3] The country officially became an independent state on 23 September 1991.[4]


The May 1990 Armenian Supreme Soviet election resulted in the formation of a non-Communist government led by Levon Ter-Petrosyan, chairman of the Pan-Armenian National Movement.[5]

On 23 August 1990, the Supreme Soviet of the Armenian SSR adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Armenia, which marked the beginning of the process of establishing independent statehood. It was declared that the Republic of Armenia was a sovereign state endowed with independence. The Constitution of the USSR and the laws of the USSR ceased to apply in the territory of the Republic. In order to ensure its security and inviolability of its borders, the Republic of Armenia established its own Armed Forces, internal troops, state and public security bodies subordinate to the Supreme Soviet.[2]

In December 1990, Mikhail Gorbachev proposed a referendum on the continuation of the Soviet Union, as a federative state. The Ter-Petrosyan government rejected the proposal on 1 March 1991 and decided instead to hold a referendum on independence.[5]

The referendum was scheduled for 21 September 1991. The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic was given the right "in case of a sharp change in the situation to decide on an early referendum".[6]

On 21 September 1991, the referendum was held. The majority of citizens with the right to vote answered this question in the affirmative.

On 23 September 1991, the Supreme Council of Armenia confirmed the republic's secession from the USSR based on the results of the referendum.[4]


Valid votes2,052,62999.80
Invalid/blank votes4,1290.20
Total votes2,056,758100.00
Registered voters/turnout2,163,96795.05
Source: Direct Democracy


Following the referendum, Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev unsuccessfully attempted to persuade Armenia to join the Union of Soviet Sovereign Republics. However, the Armenian government signed an economic treaty with Russia that created a free-trade zone.[7]

Levon Ter-Petrosyan was elected the first president of Armenia in November 1991 and Armenia formally gained independence on 26 December 1991.


In a separate referendum, around 99% of ethnic Armenians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region voted for independence from Azerbaijan. Artur Mkrtchyan was chosen as president of the region following the 28 December 1991 parliamentary elections. On 2 January 1992 President Mutalibov of Azerbaijan placed the region under direct presidential rule, and the region formally declared it's independence from the nation four days later on 6 January.[8]

Prior to the 1991 referendum, conflict had started in the Nagorno-Karabakh region in 1988, with the referendum soon causing an escalation into a long phase of war within the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

See also


  1. ^ Nohlen, Hartmann & Grotz 2001, p. 329.
  2. ^ a b "Armenian Declaration of Independence". Parliament of Armenia. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  3. ^ Nohlen, Hartmann & Grotz 2001, p. 332.
  4. ^ a b "Самоопределение по ленинским принципам". APN (in Russian). Retrieved 2019-06-26.
  5. ^ a b Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe 1991, p. 1–2.
  6. ^ "Decision of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Armenia on holding a referendum on secession from the USSR in the territory of the Republic of Armenia". Archived from the original on 31 July 2017.
  7. ^ "Restoration of Armenian Independence: Armenian Third Republic". University of South Florida Tampa Library. Archived from the original on 2017-03-25.
  8. ^ "46. Azerbaijan/Nagorno-Karabakh (1991-present)". uca.edu. Retrieved 2024-03-18.