died (August, 1991).
The statement issued on August 19, 1991 by the State Committee for the
State of Emergency in the U.S.S.R. included the following passages:
citizens of the Soviet Union, we are addressing you at the grave, critical
hour for the destinies of the Motherland and our peoples. A mortal danger
has come to loom large over our great Motherland.
The policy reforms, launched at Mikhail S. Gorbachev's initiative and
designed as a means to insure the country's dynamic development and
the democratization of social life, have entered for several reasons
a blind alley. Lack of faith, apathy and despair have replaced the original
enthusiasm and hopes. Authorities at all levels have lost the population's
trust. Politicking has replaced in public life concern for the faith
of the Motherland and the citizen. Malicious outrage against all state
institutes is being imposed. The country has in fact become ungovernable.
Never before in national history has the propaganda of sex and violence
assumed such a scale, threatening the health and lives of future generations.
Millions of people are demanding measures against the octopus of crime
and glaring immorality.
We intend to restore law and order straight away, end bloodshed, declare
war without mercy to the criminal world, eradicate shameful phenomena
discrediting our society and degrading Soviet citizens.
We shall clean the streets of our cities from criminal elements and
put an end to the arbitrariness of the squanderers of the national wealth.
We are calling upon the workers, peasants, working intelligentsia, all
Soviet people to restore, within the briefest period of time, labor
discipline and order, and raise the level of production in order to
march ahead. Our life and the future of our children and grandchildren,
the fate of the Motherland depend on this.
We are a peace-loving country and shall undeviatingly honor all our
commitments. We have no claims to make against anybody. We want to live
in peace and friendship with all. But we firmly declare that no one
will ever be allowed to encroach upon our sovereignty, independence
and territorial integrity. All attempts to talk the language of diktat
to our country, no matter where they may come from, will be resolutely
We call on all true patriots, people of good will, to put an end to
the present time of uncertainty.
We call on all citizens of the Soviet Union to grow aware of their duty
before the country and render all possible assistance to the State Committee
for the State of Emergency in the U.S.S.R. and efforts to pull the country
out of crisis.
initial response to the coup by then-U.S.-president George Herbert Walker
Bush was to enunciate his "gut instinct" that Gennadi I. Yanayev (State
Committee for the State of Emergency in the U.S.S.R. member and selfappointed
"acting president" of the U.S.S.R.) had "a certain commitment to reform."
Mikhail Gorbachev, held incommunicado at his Crimean dacha, was
said to be "undergoing treatment...very tired after these many years!
...As soon as he feels better, [Gorbachev] will again take up his office."
Tuesday, August 20, 1991: hundreds of thousands of Russians ignored a
military curfew to demonstrate in favor of a defiant Boris Yeltsin ("You
can erect a throne of bayonets, but you cannot sit on it for long"), and
against the reactionary coup of August 19. Impromptu barricades included
bathtubs, sheet metal, logs, desks, and at least one kitchen sink. Before
dawn on August 21, tanks and armored personnel carriers came up against
large crowds of unyielding citizens--some armed with Molotov cocktails.
Three civilians were killed in the confrontation, but the military of
the Soviet Union withdrew from the area.
This exchange took place before the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Republic
on August 23, 1991, shortly after the coup failed:
Part II Notes
Part III Notes
Part IV Notes
Part V Notes
Part VI Notes
Part VII Notes
Part VIII Notes
Part IX Notes
Part X Notes
Part XI Notes
Part XII Notes