Former Soviet Union: 15 Years Since the August Coup

Today is 15 years since the beginning of the events that some people consider (RUS) Russia's Orange Revolution – but which are better known as the August Putsch.

This year, on August 20 and 21, memorial services will be held in Moscow for Dmitry Komar, Ilya Krichevsky and Vladimir Usov, the three men who were crushed to death by tanks during street confrontations. On August 22, which is Russia's State Flag Day, there'll be a rally near the government building in Moscow, known as the White House.

LJ user labas (Igor Petrov) was one of the defenders of the White House in 1991. He wrote a piece for a newspaper shortly after the events, and, when 13 years later he was feeling nostalgic during the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, he posted parts of this old text (RUS) on his blog. Below is the translation:

PRESTO (August 20)

How many of us are here? […] Fifty thousand, one hundred, five hundred? We are soaking wet under the nervous rain and we are warming up near small fires; we are crowding around the happy owner of a portable radio and we are stomping the revolutionary mud with our wet sneakers; we've gathered here to defend freedom, so long-awaited, so badly-needed […].

Who are we? […] The people, old and not so old, good, different, people who've suddenly gathered at this square and become what we really are. [Lots of] young people, and here's this 14-year-old guy who asked me for 2 kopecks to [make a call from a pay phone] and tell his relatives with pride: “I'm staying for the night here. Don't worry, ma, we are defending our Motherland.” And this sweet feeling of unity, and being positive of our victory, despite it all, and yesterday's thoughts and worries are nothing to us now, […] – and the already very familiar dirigible is greeting us from above with the tri-color [Russian, not Soviet] flag.

ALLEGRO (August 21)

The White House Radio:

“Attention. Aspecial edition. White House observers have noticed a group of young men with short hair and sports bags. Fifteen minutes ago, they poured into the ranks of the White House defenders. Watch out. There are KGB agents in disguise amongst you.

- Listen, – says my cordon neighbor, – let's stay in touch. If the need arises, we'll get together again.

The White House Radio:

“I think that the putschists have to be tried by a people's trial in Russia. Though it would be moral and ethical to give [Boris Pugo] away to the Baltics.” (A voice from the crowd: “And [Dmitri Yazov] – to the students!”)

We laugh. Gradually, the tension subsides. But no one goes away, and women keep carrying, carrying, carrying shopping bags, plastic bags, backpacks: “Where do we take the food to, guys?”

The White House Radio:

“Attention. If the saboteurs inside the White House block any of the rooms, those locked in will be breaking windows from the inside. This should serve as the signal for you.”

- Listen, – the neighbor tells me, pointing to a gunman in police uniform, who is guarding Entrance #14 with us, – this is the first time I'm looking at a cop without getting annoyed…

I'm smiling. A black Volga drives up to the [dining hall set up inside a bus]. On the back seat, there is a heap of buckwheat.

ADAGIO (September 2)

It seems to me that all our fathers-victors aren't paying attention to one really important issue: yes, we've reached unity, but this unity is against, not for, something. We've been able to reject something together, but it doesn't mean we all aspire to positive deeds. No one can [miraculously] turn mourning into carnival, and carnival into construction.

Alas, my dear cordon neighbor, we will never be able to get together again. Soon, very soon, life will take us to different levels of the social ladder. And, unfortunately, there is a possibility that one day, in the new maelstrom of political craziness, we'll bump into the decisive, khaki-colored boys who were recently giving us trophy cigarettes near the White House – only suddenly they'll be at the other side of the barricades.

September 2, 1991


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