"The Renascence of Ukraine: The Ukrainian State, 1917-20. The Period of the Central Rada(Council)" - A. Shulhyn, from Ukraine, A Concise Encyclopedia, Shevchenko Scientific Society, UofT Press.
"On April 19-21, the Central Rada called an All-Ukrainian National Congress in which 1500 delegates from the organizations of all Ukraine took part. Peasants and soldiers predominated...The congress elected the Central Rada as the standing Ukrainian representative assembly. The Rada was joined by representatives of all parties, of professional and cultural organizations, and also by representatives of the provinces, who were considered provisional delegates only, for provincial congresses were to be called later to re-elect their delegates...
"In political life this was a period of reorganization of old parties and the establishment of new ones...In addition to the three major parties (the UPSF [Ukrainian Party of Socialists-Federalists], USDRP [the Ukrainian Socialist Democratic Labor party], and UPSR [the Ukrainian Party of Social Revolutionaries]), a number of minor political parties existed also The Ukrainian Labor party..The Ukrainian Democratic Farmers party..The Ukrainian Federative-Democratic party...Beside these purely policial organizations, other organizations and their congresses played significant roles in Ukraine at the time. The most important of these were the congresses of the soldiers, peasants, and workers. All the congresses fully supported the Central Rada and sent delegates to it...
"The Third Universal [of the Central Rada] proclaimed democratic principles: freedom of speech, of the press, of religion, of assembly; freedom for unions to organize and strike; the security of the individual and his property; the right of non-Ukrainians to use their own language in relations with state institutions; abolition of the death penalty,and amnesty for all political prisoners;and the proper administration of the courts. It abolished the right of private ownership of land and recognized the land as belonging to the entire people. It established an eight-hour working day, acknowledged the right of government and the workers to the control of industry,and the right of national minorities (ie. the citizens of Russian, Jewish, Polish, and other descent) to manage their national and cultural affairs by means of their own representative and administrative institutions. It also proclaimed a reform of local self-government...
The program of the USPR, which "soon won an absolute majority at the elections" called for reform of the large estates owned by foreign nobles- first to become state-owned, then "to be distributed among the peasants with the land under the supervision of self-governing bodies within the communities, counties, and provinces, rather than the state." p.729.
"The Fourth Universal...ordered the holding of elections to the people's councils in volosts, counties, and cities; established state control of domestic and foreign trade; took control of banks and larges industrial enterprises; and decided that the Constituent Assembly be summoned in a few weeks. In the second half of Jan. 1918, the Central Rada passed a land law intended to carry out the promises of the Third Universal...The bombardment and later the capture of Kiev [Kyiv] by Soviet Russian forces did not halt the legislative work of the Central Rada...On Jan. 24, 1918, the Ukrainian Central Rada passed a law regarding the national and personal autonomy of minority groups - the first of its kind in modern history. According to this law every national minority was entitled to deal with its own cultural affairs through elective bodies and was to receive the necessary money for this purpose from the state..."
It was the democratic and legislative work of representatives of the people in Ukraine which was repeatedly stymied by the Russian Provisional Government after the Russian Revolution, and then militarily squashed by the Bolsheviks. One of their first actions was to massacre five thousand Ukrainian civilians in Kyiv. Lenin wanted to control Ukraine himself- kind of like Harper wants to control Canada now- without a representative parliament drawn from residents of the physical land in question, but with his own limited faction, his strength drawn primarily from his own limited geographic focus, over other regions.
In western Ukraine at the time, hoped for freedom from Austria-Hungary was dissolved by Polish military occupation supported by the Allied powers of WWI.
People at the grassroots knew what democracy looked like.
It didn't look like rule of the many by the few, nor did it look like military occupation, under any name.
The elements of freedom consisted in self-determination by the actual residents of the land as they worked together to develop policies for the good of all.