Academic journal article Demokratizatsiya

Supreme Soviet Investigation of the 1991 Coup

Academic journal article Demokratizatsiya

Supreme Soviet Investigation of the 1991 Coup

Article excerpt

The Suppressed Transcripts: Part 5 Hearings on the Participation of the Leadership of the Soviet Armed Forces

Editor's Introduction

This issue of Demokratizatsiya contains the last section of the suppressed Russian Federation Supreme Soviet transcripts of the hearings into the causes of the 1991 coup. The serialization of an edited English transcript of the hearings, which began in our fall 1995 issue (vol. III, no. 4), marks the first time the actual transcripts were published either in Russia or the West. In the following pages, we publish the final portion of the 18 February 1992 hearing titled "The Participation of the Leadership Personnel of the Armed Forces in the Coup d'Etat of 19-21 August 1991." The text contains the testimony of Russian state procuracy investigator A. V. Frolov and State Committee for Defense Matters Deputy Chairman Vladimir N. Lopatin.

As we have cautioned readers, the text, translated from photocopies of the original, typed draft manuscripts by Russian Federation Supreme Soviet stenographers on worn-out manual typewriters, is often difficult to read. To keep the translation as faithful as possible, the translators sought to preserve accuracy over style, so the translation contains incomplete or rambling sentences and the other faults of an unedited transcript. We have deleted portions concerning procedural matters and other questions that offer no significant historical insights. All editing is indicated in brackets in the text. Material in parentheses is the work of the Supreme Soviet stenographers. A copy of the original stenographic record in Russian is deposited in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.


[Continued from the fall 1996 issue of Demokratizatsiya]

A.V. Frolov (an Investigator with the Investigative Group on the GKChP from the Russian Federation Procuracy)

Distinguished people's deputies, as you know the investigation of the conditions for the attempted coup d'etat which took place last August is completed. Beginning from January 14th, there has been first-hand acquaintance with those persons who were indicted for criminal matters. Power can operate only with the people's trust or by force. The GKChP selected the second path, and from here that role which was prepared by the army in the attempted coup d'etat. Participation in the attempted coup in the army basically was determined by participation in the conspiracy by its higher command.

I want to say in advance, that I will need about half an hour to distinctly lay out this large amount of material which we had to investigate in the process of our investigation and considering that both Yazov and Varennikov were indicted, both of whom occupy the highest position in the army's hierarchy, so naturally, we investigated a great deal of material relating to the activity of the army.

We can conditionally break down these materials which we are putting out into about ten items. I will literally outline these positions so that it will be clear on what bases we are situated, determining the circle of those persons which are indicted, and why we made a series of decisions which could be at first glance illogical, and not subscribing to that political evaluation which is presented by these events.

First of all, speaking of the conspiracy itself, we can conditionally set out three stages. The first stage begins somewhere where it was noted not at the end of 1990, but when even prior to August of 1990 there were specific attempts made to obtain by legal means emergency authority or to have an emergency situation declared.

I am not going to linger here because a lot of this has been written about in the press.

The basic period of preparation for the putsch on which the investigative organs stopped was directly the period of 5-16 August. In this period, as you know, USSR President Gorbachev left Moscow on vacation. …

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