Early in the morning on August, 19th, 1991 I as well as all Soviet people got to know from messages on TV about formation of the State Committee of the State of Emergency in the USSR (GKChP). It was declared that the president of the country M.Gorbachev was sick and execution of his duties was transferred to vice-president G.I.Janaev - chairman of GKChP.
I can not say that I believed that healthy as a bull Gorbachev suddenly got ill in the resort Foros. Some falseness was felt here but I was pleased that Judas was not in power. The very thought that for two-three days, a week or two I wouldn't see that sugary muzzle on TV and listen to his empty oratory about "reorganization for the country and the whole world" pleased. I already had toothache from those empty words. Soul was singing and I, already adult guy, rejoiced as a child and went for work to "Pravda" as if it were a holiday.
There were armored troop-carriers near to the editors office, soldiers sat on their turrets. I tried and tried once again to pull out editorial press photographer Maja Skurihin to make photos of me and those fighters. While she was running across Moscow to be in time to make colourful photos for issue.
Many people remember how the capital occupied with armies looked like then. It seemed to me that from that historical day the ruin of the Union would stop, «war of sovereignties» would be finished, restoration of industry, agriculture and legality would start. The standard of life of the population would rise together with them. Probably, millions citizens of the country thought the same. Anyway «Declarations of the Soviet management» and other documents of GKChP gave such hopes.
I worked as the feuilletonist, I wasn't experienced in springs of the Kremlin policy but it seemed to me by the evening on August, 19th: something's going wrong, not as it is necessary ... Television announcers read the documents of GKChP each hour, then we were showed «Swan lake». It began resembling farce. While «Yeltsin gang» pulled forces for organization of «repulse to junta» to White House, members of the Soviet management sat still as if waiting for something.
- Where are members of GKChP? Why are they silent? Why did nobody give any explanations? - we in edition were lost in guesses.
It was clear: the country, labor collectives should be shown not female hips of "small swans" but politicians, economists, known people who would in simple and intelligible language explain necessity of formation of GKChP and measures offered by it on restoration of economy and legality. Actions were necessary but there were not actions.
Press conference which members of GKChP gave in the evening didn't add any clearness. On the contrary, it caused snickers apropos «shivering hands» of G.Janaev, it fogged. It didn't promote increase of authority of members of GKChP. If Gorbachev after illness returns to presidential chair, many thought then, then what the reason for making such a mess was? After all the main enemy - Gorbachev. Millions people didn't want to see that chatterbox in power any more, while potential saver from his reorganizations and demagogy promised us his fast return which caused disappointment from the beginning. The feeling of looking of a show amplified ...
On the morning of August, 20th I got the phone of G.Janaev with whom I got acquainted during his stay at the post of the secretary of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions and called him up from the office of the editor of department V.Kozhemjako.
- Gennady Ivanovich, what is going on? Nobody from us in "Pravda" can understand anything.
The answer shoked me:
- Sanja, I don't know and understand much. Wait for communiques.
It became clear: GKChP is losing to Yeltsin who already collected near to White House a meeting for repulse to "putshists" and protection of Gorbachev illegally deprived of power. Supreme leaders of the USSR followers of Yeltsin already called "conspirators", "junta" which made revolution. Different orators from Yeltsin's environment being once at war with Gorbachev now shed crocodile tears from a balcony of White House.
The rest is well-known: blood at night of August, 21st near the tunnel on Sadovoe Ring, "liberating" of Gorbachev from Foros, his "returning already in different country". Then arrests by the Russian Office of Public Prosecutor of members of GKChP and those leaders who actively supported it ...
Thus the following people found themselves in pre-trial detention center "Matrosskaya Tishina": the vice-president of the USSR G.I.Janaev, the chairman of Cabinet of Ministers V.S.Pavlov, Minister of Defence D.T.Jazov, the head of KGB of the USSR V.A.Krjuchkov, the deputy chairman of Defence Council O.D.Baklanov, the chairman of Association of State Enterprises of Industry, Transport and Communication A.I.Tizjakov, the chairman of the Agro-Industrial Union and the chairman of collective farm V.A.Starodubtsev. And also their adherents: secretary of the CPSU Central Committee and a member of Political bureau O.S.Shenin, the head of executive personnel of the USSR V.I.Boldin, the Deputy Minister of Defence, the Commander-in-chief of Land Forces general V.I. Varennikov, chiefs of KGB departments J.S.Plehanov and V.V.Generalov. Chairman of the Supreme body of the USSR A.I.Lukjanov who didn't enter the committee at all and supported anybody also appeared on casemates in a couple of days. He was arrested for the company. Russian public prosecutor Stepankov convicted al of them for "betrayal of Native land".
Thus, Yeltsin and his camarilla made real revolution having grasped allied power in the USSR and led it to legal and actual liquidation...
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For the past 19 years hundreds and thousands articles about August events were written. Its participants explained then that they created committee in conditions of "emergency". On August, 20th Gorbachev appointed signing of the Contract about creation of the Union of Sovereign states secretly cooked up, after it the USSR should cease to exist legally. It was necessary to anticipate...
But they said little about the reasons which prevented them from winning? That is to reach aims which they declared in literary and logically faultless documents. A question appears at once: whether they wanted to win at all? Whether their performance was not farce, performance, arrangement with Gorbachev aspiring to liquidate the CPSU and to make process of ruin of the Union irreversible?
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It is difficult to me to be objective while answering to these questions. Firstly, because I as the journalist got acquainted with all members of GKChP and even their families. I was present in a hall of court of Military board in «a press box» all months judicial farce over them proceeded. I took with "conspirators" tens interview and willy-nilly felt certain sympathy.
Then they grew bolder... In 2001, already working in "Patriot" I organized press conference with former members of GKChP for the Russian and foreign journalists on the occasion of 10 anniversary of their performance. Here you are the answer Gennady Janaev gave to the trickiest question.
- Even after so many years after our performance attempts to demonize GKChP are undertaken. If there are demons, there are heroes who struggle against them and win. From the other hand - glorification of so-called "democrats" led by Yeltsin who, having roughly trampled democratic standards - I am not talking about legal ones - dud, declared "junta", "criminals" all first persons of the Soviet state. Innocence presumption was forgotten.
If to speak about the reasons of our failure I think it's because we wanted to provide Gorbachev's democratic image, to keep him on a post of the president before legislature could shape his destiny on democratic basis. It is the key moment which explains all illogicality of our actions. I would qualify them as inactivity because we were engaged in that I was publishing decrees while Yeltsin was canceling them. Perhaps, it was the error that we brought heavy machinery, tanks though it's provided by regular situations at states of emergency. Today I often hear questions from people in the streets: «Well, why did you do nothing? You had everything in hands. You failed to organize even home "petty putsch". Well, we had no intention to be at war with people. From the very beginning in the night from 18th on 19th we agreed: if only we feel that position of GKChP doesn't receive support and there is danger of bloodshed, we should immediately stop actions and would dissolve itself.
If so: here you are illogicality, inconsistency, indecision and own uncertainty in correctness of the begun business. Certainly, it was possible to win. Upon three main conditions. Yeltsin's temporal isolation, as it was planned, with explanation to people that he was the main instigator of the ruin of the USSR and deterioration of their life.
The second: to carry out a number of vigorous actions which were offered in telegram general Varennikov. To teach "rebels" in White House by switching-off telephone and other communication facilities, electricity, etc. it would be possible to give "Alpha" the order to bring discipline to WH quickly and without serious consequences.
The third: personal explanation through mass-media of aims and targets of creation of GKChP to the Soviet people. Organization of mass actions in support of its decisions.
The main thing is that actions were necessary while they were absent. In one of interviews in about 1998 V.Krjuchkov told me: «Everything we warned in documents of GKChP became true. Yeltsin and his command ruined the USSR as we warned, they plundered public property, torn down economy, cast millions people into poverty, launched bloody fratricidal war in the Chechen Republic... So, the history by and large has already justified us».
I think, part of it is so and part is not. If leaders of the USSR acted resolutely and vigorously, I am sure, there would be no today's fatal consequences. The country would not live from mourning to mourning.
Leaders of the USSR trying to rescue the country from ruin entered all textbooks of history of Russia, majority of «scientific researches», books for entering high schools as conspirators, putshists trying to turn history back. Our opposition for some reason reconciled with this big lie...
This is an impressive article. It is totally different from the news I was getting at the time. It was simply Yeltsin and the people of Moscow against a gang of "coup plotters". Legitimacy, in the news, lay totally with Yeltsin.
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