Around the events of August 1991, there are several persistent myths. With this article I want either to debunk or confirm, giving them a rational explanation. So…
photo: Alex geldings
The first myth. The events surrounding the putsch in August 1991 was the culmination of a democratic revolution in Russia which was historically predetermined the Soviet period of history.
This is true. In fact, the democratic revolution began in Russia with the coming to power of Gorbachev, when he began to speak publicly about restructuring, the public. A defeat of the putsch became its culmination. Revolution was gradual, it took several years to a desire for change became the dominant idea of the intelligentsia, or, as they say, the creative class. For me personally the beginning of the peaceful revolution was a phone call Gorbachev Andrei Sakharov, who is then in political exile, to return to Moscow. Then Gorbachev began to release political prisoners, and it is this process that I believe the starting point of the new history of Russia.
This is incorrect. The process of global change began in the country due to historical inevitability. The Communist regime by that time had exhausted its possibilities. And it’s not only Gorbachev, but any young Secretary in his place, who was to live, and maybe edit a few more decades, it was clear. Not to understand this could only be the elders of the Politburo who had died one after the other, but artificially extended mode.
The urgent need for change was mainly related to the economic situation. The USSR post-Stalin period was not a totalitarian country in the worst sense of the word. The people of the USSR had the idea of how to live in the West. They knew that the people there eat better, dress better, have more social benefits and the opportunity to travel around the world. Gradually the number of people who understand it, grown to the most active 5% of the population, which predetermine changes in the country. So we, of course, say thanks to Gorbachev for glasnost and perestroika, but democratic change was inevitable and he did not depend.
The third myth. The main intrigue and the driving force behind the events of 1989-1991 was the struggle between Gorbachev and Yeltsin, which ended with the victory of Yeltsin, crushed the coup.
This is not so. In fact, the driving force of change was not two figures, but rather a democratic movement that emerged by the end of 1980‑ies. Denote them as 5%, as we have said above. These people went their own ways. They were grateful to Gorbachev, they supported the election of people’s deputies of the USSR in 1989, participated in them, some became people’s deputies of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. They did not have a majority in the Supreme Council already had a very active faction of the interregional Deputy group, which was headed by the leaders of perestroika, Boris Yeltsin, Andrei Sakharov, Yuri Afanasiev, and Gavriil Popov. This group largely determined the course of history, in supporting Gorbachev, and something opposing, and under pressure from the people, Gorbachev and the Congress abolished 6th article of the Constitution of the USSR about the leading role of the CPSU.
The people’s democratic movement, for the emergence of which Gorbachev has created all the conditions could not support Yeltsin, and Gorbachev, then Gorbachev would become the new President of the country. I myself hold rallies in support of the young Secretary General, and the Moscow Association of voters (MY) and later the movement “Democratic Russia” was open to contact with him. In the beginning of our activities in the 89-90 years, we offered joint with Mikhail Sergeyevich round table, to determine the further course of the adjustment. But Gorbachev refused. It was clear that he was pressured by the conservative reactionary forces, and he regularly drifted easily to the side of their opponents. He was not ready for a direct dialogue with the people.
As a result, the participants of the democratic movement realized that to negotiate with Gorbachev does not work, and have relied on dissidents inside the Communist party — Boris Yeltsin, widely known among democratically-minded Communists.
The fourth myth. Boris Yeltsin created the democratic movement.
Already from previous responses it is clear that it is not. Yeltsin was a bright, strong political leader, had a gut feeling, but for the Democrats was and still is a winner. But the democratic movement of the 80-90‑ies arose from below, and not by someone’s order. It was based more on the tradition of dissidents of the Soviet period and began to grow in the time of perestroika. Most notably this happened in Moscow, and the culmination of this process was the election of 1989, when the Moscow Association of voters were able to incorporate all of the perestroika group. Only one attempt to enumerate all available at the time of flow, movement, group, etc., shows how wide was the range of political organizations: the Club voters Academy of Sciences, which supported Sakharov and many other Democrats, a broad movement of support of Boris Yeltsin, no less powerful movement prosecutors Gdlyan and Ivanov, the “Communists for democracy”, the Moscow popular front, which partially incorporated some of these groups. Almost every academic institution there was a group of perestroechnikov. Several groups of anarchists, popular fronts separate areas of Moscow with their separate names. And so on. It is obvious that Boris Yeltsin was one of the most prominent leaders, but his new destiny began in may 1990, when the faction “Democratic Russia” has nominated him to the post of Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR. The Communists then proposed the candidate. And how hard was the struggle, is clear from the fact that the approval of the President was only on the 4th ballot. Then began a bright new political career of Boris Yeltsin.
I happened to be in a wonderful Center. Yeltsin in Yekaterinburg. And so as the Fund. Boris Yeltsin, composed of his associates, they have not escaped the temptation to demonstrate that Yeltsin was and were the people who went straight for him. But independent from Yeltsin political forces that emerged in Russia in parallel with Yeltsin and his dissidence played a decisive role in the selection of its Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR, and later the President of Russia, they failed to demonstrate.
The fifth myth. The Democrats took power, failed to hold her back, and now, in 2017, we note that the coup had won.
This myth is unfair, although its existence and has an obvious reason. After the defeat of the putsch and the Democrats really won, and their victory resulted in the creation of new legislation — legislation of a democratic state. Thanks to the victory of the Democrats in 1991 in Russia was carried out judicial reform, there was a separation of powers, there appeared the Constitution of the Russian Federation, where the rights and freedoms of a person declared to be the highest value, and the new President, assuming the office, swears to protect and guarantee human rights. The basis of a democratic state created, and despite all attempts to destroy it, so far this has not happened.
On the other hand, the power in the country the Democrats, of course, could not take. Because, roughly speaking, the revolution is of two kinds: bloody and peaceful. Bloody was the revolution of 1917, when the new government physically destroyed the entire old elite and seized all the levers of power: economic, political, administrative. Such power is truly sustainable, it does not allow the reverse reaction and, as we have seen, can rule over 70 years.
Peaceful revolution can’t go on this way. And so, having made the revolution in 1991, she made radical changes in the legislation, but to hold any, though soft lustration of hundreds of thousands of citizens who have held senior positions, could not and did not have the opportunity. And as a result, the levers of administrative, economic power remained the same Communists, our opponents. And the Democrats have been, and were in the minority. Especially in the regions of Russia. Then it all went, as went. In 1990‑e years were more signs of democracy which have been maintained above: was freedom of speech, the Parliament opposed Yeltsin. But by passing the power into the hands of an ideological supporter of the emergency Committee, called the collapse of the Soviet Union the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century, Boris Yeltsin actually gave putsch victory. In some sense, we can say that the coup had won. But if he won in 1991, then we wouldn’t have those freedoms and who are now actively destroying power. And now everything depends on the next year or two, when it becomes clear whether the Democrats regain the victory.