Armenia Declares Independence

Armenia formally declared its independence Monday, making an even dozen of Soviet republics intent on breaking away as the empire falls.

The declaration by the Armenian Supreme Soviet was approved by a vote of 213-0, with one abstention, and follows this past weekend’s overwhelming vote for secession from the Soviet Union that once bound 15 diverse republics.

More than 99% of voters endorsed a free Armenia in Saturday’s referendum.

The parliamentary action accelerates a bid for nationhood that leaders earlier had said would be gradual and in compliance with the Soviet constitution, which sets out a process of dissociation that takes at least five years.


But since the coup attempt by Communist Party hard-liners against Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev more than a month ago, the power of the Kremlin to govern the union has dwindled.

Armenian leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan, who is competing in the republic’s presidential election next month, has continued to support negotiations with Moscow on future trade and military relations.

He has also promised interim Armenian participation in all surviving Soviet power structures.

Armenia was independent for only two years, between 1918 and 1920, before being absorbed into the Soviet Union. The last period of long-term sovereignty ended in the 14th Century.