Twenty-five years ago, in the night from 18 to 19 August, for “stabilization of the situation in the USSR” was created by the State emergency Committee (emergency Committee), consisting of the Vice-President of the USSR Gennady Yanayev, the head of the government Sergey Pavlov, defense Minister Dmitry Yazov, and other leaders of the Communist party and security agencies. In the morning they announced the failure of Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev to lead the country and the introduction of a state of emergency. This was done a day before the signing of a new Union Treaty under which the USSR would become a Confederation.
The leadership of Russia, President Yeltsin and the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation — described the actions of GKCHP as a coup. They were supported by the Moscow government. The plotters were introduced into the tanks to Moscow and the whole country symbolically shared a barricade near the White house, where hundreds of thousands of democracy advocates gathered for the confrontation with the coup.
The defenders of the White house won a victory, Gorbachev returned to Moscow. The members of the emergency Committee were arrested, and then pardoned. “To stabilize the situation in the USSR” in the end nobody failed, the Union Treaty was not signed, and the Union soon collapsed.
After a quarter-century of “MK” asked the winners of the August 1991 about those events and about whether they disposed of their victory. It turned out that the views of the winners on those historical events, and contradict each other, and differ from those described in the history books.
— Do you find justification for the actions of the emergency Committee members, who staged a coup in August 1991?
Alexander KORZHAKOV, in 1991, the security chief of President of the RSFSR Boris Yeltsin:
— Of course, they have an excuse. They tried to make Gorbachev unpopular job and rely on him. If the plan for the putsch failed — namely, they would have put a minimum order in the country, a little bit intimidated someone, until democratic Gorbachev supposedly sick, he would be quickly recovered and returned on a white horse. But Gorbachev had deceived his colleagues on the emergency Committee. Allowed to put them in “Matrosskaya Tishina”, and let them have a new power when Gorbachev fell completely.
We — those who are considered winners in the August events of 1991 — I can’t much blame those who have called a coup. We are all inmates of the Soviet country and wanted to keep it. Want good first the Soviet Union, then Russia. But how to do that stuff — at that moment nobody knew, or everyone knew differently. Gkchpisty wanted in his own way, we, on the other side of the fence — in its own way. I was familiar with many members of the emergency Committee, with some later, after their release, became friendly…
— Do you believe that the main goal of the putsch was to prevent the signing of the Union Treaty, which was scheduled for August 20?
— Absolutely not! This is the official version of the textbooks, which then the members of the emergency Committee have signed up to make it easier to justify. I know that there is no Union Treaty on 20 August to sign, no one was going. I still worked a lot in the security services and know what would be a preparation for such a large event which attracts heads of all republics and of the Union leadership. Would be pre-connected large forces: the organizers of the ceremony and celebration, security… And there is no training going! Gorbachev decided not to sign and to hide. And to substantiate this he could only his severe illness. So heavy that even the government temporarily had to pass on the emergency Committee. He himself had told them, and then they declared a coup.
Of course, like all patriots, statesmen, members of the emergency Committee wanted not only to shield Gorbachev, but also to restore control of the country. Because by the time the Soviet government blamed not only in the kitchen, and from the television screens. For a start, they planned to normalize the situation, but we’ll see…
Another thing is that the members of the PPP is stressed from the responsibility and began to act inappropriately. Why, then sent tanks to the White house, then panicked… Yazov almost killed himself when he learned about the three accidentally dead citizens on the street under the armor. Was so worried.
Sergei SHAKHRAI, in 1991 — Deputy of the Supreme Council:
— I legal education prevents to say that the members of the emergency Committee are excused. If people go to the violation of constitutional norms in the form of a coup, how are these actions justified?
But many people today agree to the fact that the members of the emergency Committee for the Motherland has stood up like the best…
— The best — for whom? You need to remember that in April, 1991 by the Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist party it was decided to convene on September 3 the Congress party in power, and the next day the Congress of people’s deputies of the USSR. These two Congress would have accepted the resignation of Gorbachev from office and the party Secretary General and President of the USSR. In fact, the issue was solved back in April. Mikhail Gorbachev went ahead and began negotiations with the leaders of the Union republics, offering them in return for support for his candidacy new Union Treaty, in fact — Confederate, with far greater powers of Republican leadership. And promised the leaders of the republics that will replace all of the power the Soviet leadership. Of course, the leaders of power structures of the USSR was not going to wait, when Gorbachev removed them from power, signing the Treaty with the republics. They mobilized in the form of a putsch.
Therefore, any moral justification for their actions: they were not going to save the country, and their personal place in the leadership of the country. It was a cynical struggle for personal power.
On 17 August the head of the RSFSR Boris Yeltsin initialed a Treaty of Alliance, and on August 20 was designated the official signing, after which Kryuchkov, Yazov and other comrades have departed from the Kremlin to retire. And then they, in turn, moved into the lead, but did it awkwardly. They believed that one form of tanks on the streets of Moscow forced the Russian President, the Russian Parliament and all other citizens who believed in democracy were all “right to understand” and act as you say. But the opposite happened: he saw armored vehicles, hundreds of thousands of Muscovites took to the streets and psychologically broke members of the emergency Committee. So that those hands started to shake.
The logic of the emergency Committee I explained particularly noble motives was not there, and the result was that the contract of August 20 was not signed, and already on August 24, Ukraine (which until then was among the eight republics, firmly declared about the desire to remain in the Union) declared its independence from the Soviet Union. Started irreversible collapse of a single state.
The Union Treaty could have been signed earlier, but Gorbachev promised to all Autonomous republics equal status with the Soviet. And was even adopted two laws on this subject. And in Russia at that time was already 20 autonomies. By the way, early in the morning of 20 August, the heads of all the Autonomous republics lined up in the waiting room Yanayev in anticipation of independence…
In the event of their leaving the Federation would lose half of the territory. So summer has Yeltsin waited and thought about how to get out of the situation with the Union contract. But by August it was all decided: the head of Russia first puts his signature under the Treaty of Alliance, and all the heads of the Autonomous republics of the RSFSR sign under his signature. Column. And treats it how you want. The result was that Yeltsin has preserved the autonomy part of Russia after the dissolution of the USSR.
Alexander RUTSKOI, in 1991 — Vice-President of the Russian Federation:
— If you do not know what preceded the so-called coup, you can argue about the guilt or innocence of members of the emergency Committee. There are judgements on this issue based on emotions and based on documents. I personally build their judgments on the basis of documents and facts.
If you know the background of the incident, members of the putsch can be justified. The background is that the process of collapse of the USSR was started long before these events. In 1988, a law was adopted “About the economic independence of the Baltic republics”. The first from the Soviet Union left it to the Baltic republics. In 1989 a Plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU adopted a resolution “On the new national policy”, according to which all the republics within the USSR, including Autonomous republics within the RSFSR were given the status of a sovereign independent socialist States. In 1990 the Congress of people’s deputies adopts a number of laws at the initiative of Gorbachev, not conducive to the formation of a new Union Treaty and the preservation of the country, and the rapid collapse: “On the delimitation of powers between the centre and the republics included in the USSR” (according to which all the republics had the right to veto decisions of the Soviet leadership); “On procedure of exit of republics from the USSR”; “On the national languages of the USSR”, giving the national language of the republics of the status of state…
At the initiative of Gorbachev was destroyed and the power vertical in the country. The abolition of the sixth article of the Constitution of the USSR about the leading role of the Communist party outlawed the existing system of government. Instead was introduced the post of President of the USSR, and 15 March 1990, Gorbachev was elected as the President. This is called “restructuring” — on the background of ethnic conflict, crackdown, massacre, with the total economic crisis… Apparently, the destabilization and chaos in the USSR, Gorbachev became a Nobel laureate. In my opinion, criminals — not members of the putsch, Gorbachev, created the basic framework of the collapse of the country.
At that time, was the preparation of a new Union Treaty, which Republican leaders insisted on a confederal structure of the new Union, from which any Republic can leave when I want and can make any decision without checking with the center.
It was obvious that this form of device state invalid. And Mikhail Sergeyevich had this idea: if you sign normal, the Federal agreement will not work — will have to suppress the freemen of the republics by introducing a state of emergency. To keep the situation Gorbachev, and proposed to create the State Committee of emergency Board (the emergency Committee), and it was in March, five months before the August events. Inspired by liberalism, demagoguery, the head of the Soviet Union brought the process of preparation and signing a new Union Treaty to the Confederate dead end to escape responsibility, on the eve of the August 20 signing of the Treaty, fled to the Crimea, foros, and posing as a prisoner. Thus, he simply framed his comrades. The question arises, who is 25 years looking for the answer politicians: who’s to blame? My opinion is clear: this is not a coup.
— How could the events develop, if the coup had prevailed, and was not defeated by the leaders of Russia and the defenders of the White house?
— The tragedy Gkchpistov in that win after the promise they made, it was impossible. They understood that they were against the freedom, democracy that now begin the arrests. First arrested leaders of the RSFSR, and then everyone else who comes out, with all the stops, as in 1937, that people went to defend the White house. According to various estimates, there were 50 thousand people and 200 thousand. People came, went, changed each other, so my feeling is, three days had been there more than half a million people. And they just came, and began to arm themselves to combat resistance. Already in the first day is very heavily armed. Took 200 guns from the police, then the defenders of the White house helped the military with machine guns, “Flies” and “Bees.” If Gkchpisty tried by force to seize the White house, would begin a terrible slaughter, and as Minister of defence responded to the first victim, I said.
No one in the putsch did not want blood. And the special forces “alpha”, which was supposed to seize Yeltsin and all of us, never got any clear orders from the emergency Committee. They still couldn’t have done it: I’ve prepared in case of a storm evacuation Yeltsin and his associates in the American Embassy where they would not get it. Many thought that Yeltsin was in the American Embassy, although in fact he refused to go. Anyway, special forces at first did nothing, and eventually moved to our side. The military were against the assault and bloody battle with the defenders of democracy. We were hoping, and therefore lasted.
Putsch made a fatal mistake — or rather, stupidity, entering the army to Moscow. They completely destabilized the already unstable situation in the country.
The deadlock without any major upheaval was possible, especially as the President of the USSR withdrew. In the current situation should invite to a meeting of the emergency Committee of the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR Lukyanov and offer urgently convene an extraordinary Congress of people’s deputies of the USSR with the agenda: the abolition of the laws of the USSR, about which I spoke above, as destabilizing the situation in the country; the announcement of impeachment of the President of the USSR Gorbachev’s release from office and the transfer of leadership, a collegiate body of the emergency Committee for the preparation of the new election of the President of the USSR.
Ardent supporters and initiators of the collapse of the country probably ought to arrest or isolate for a while. And at this time to elect a new President of the Soviet Union and immediately proceed to amend the Federal Federal Treaty, guided by the results of the all-Union referendum on preserving the Soviet Union. Only in this case members of the emergency Committee would go down in history as patriots, have preserved a great country. And we’ve done it, as later told Chernomyrdin: “we Wanted to make it better, but it turned out as always”.
As for the “arrest of Gorbachev in foros,” that exposed this performance I, Primakov and the Danube.
When I went to talk about the fact that Gorbachev arrested by Gkchpisty, which I highly doubt, and to prevent the massacre in Moscow, I persuaded Yeltsin to let me go for Gorbachev in foros. I wanted to bring him to Moscow and to understand what is really going on. Yeltsin agreed with me asked the flight Primakov, but we needed a plane. Had to “borrow” the side of the head of the Yanayev putsch. It wasn’t easy, had to fly without a dispatcher, but the 20 officers who were with me, showed courage and decided all of these tasks.
And when we arrived in foros and it turned out that one of Gorbachev was not arrested. He just ran away from responsibility. We picked him up and brought him back, though, to come back and he didn’t.
— If the coup had prevailed, we would have seen such a rapid process of disintegration, in which Moscow would have fled not just Soviet republics, but everything else. The emergency Committee would control only the Garden ring. Well, in the best case, Moscow oblast and part of the current CFA. The rest would have fallen off irretrievably.
The fate of some Muscovy in the power putsch can be read in modern Russian fiction. But the putsch failed, so the worst did not happen.
Whether you, the winners of the events of August 1991, ordered his victory?
— Yeltsin improperly disposed of this win — there is only his personal miscalculation. Or is he just that moment has not yet realized the scale of our victory, or fear. He could at the end of August to take all power in the USSR — to be elected President of the USSR. Then it was just: call Congress — and all things. The deputies voted, Gorbachev removed Yeltsin appointed. And becoming head of the Soviet Union, he could preserve the Union at least in some form. He couldn’t, probably to keep the Baltic republics, Ukraine and Belarus, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan and many others to leave the USSR in “independent swimming” in August 1991 were not yet collected.
However, rather than to take power into their own hands for real, Yeltsin, Gorbachev returned it and made my Poo. Said, “I’m tired, sick and left for two weeks in Latvia, to relax, heal and wait what happens.
Gorbachev the chance is also used as companions he did not trust, looking at the members of his Cabinet of the emergency Committee who is in prison. The whole capital was praying for Yeltsin and waited for his return. When it became obvious that Gorbachev actually fell, Boris Nikolayevich, peresidev minutes of uncertainty in the Baltic States, returned to Moscow. But the Union was already lost. Yeltsin had only to say to all the Union republics: take independence as much as you want, to sign up in Belovezhskaya Pushcha securities on liquidation of the USSR and think about what you need to at least to save Russia from disintegration. The Autonomous republics of the Russian Federation from Tatarstan to Chechnya — began to think very seriously on state sovereignty…
In my opinion, there was no victory. How to call a victory the loss of his country? It is a tragedy. I’m an oath of allegiance to the Soviet Union took, but to prevent its destruction and failed. In the history of the emergency Committee, there are no winners — all losers.
— How do you properly dispose of the defeat of the putsch, when they have launched the most destructive processes? We have a choice, unfortunately, was not between good and bad. The choice was such as that which occurs, when at you the burning roof, and there is a question about what to save and what to throw… Probably all of it done right: we managed without a civil war through a very difficult time starting from 24 August, when the Federal Republic began to leave with the property and debts of the Union remained only in Russia.
By the way, the last nail in the coffin of the Soviet Union drove still not a coup, and Gorbachev again. It is after August 1991, stated that out of the General secretaries of the Communist party, that is the remnants of the ruling party lost their leader, and the USSR Supreme Soviet suspended the CPSU on the territory of the country for participation in the coup. But other power except the Communist, the Union was not! It is clear that when the mechanisms of power are eliminated and even banned, without them, the country is experiencing turbulence. And build a new government has proved very difficult. But it is known to all who found the 90-ies…