Final Days: The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Soviet Union

By Andrei S. Grachev; Margo Milne | Go to book overview

Reinforcements from the Second Front

The drooping presidential flag also had to be freshly unfurled on the international scene--which was, moreover, where Gorbachev had had his greatest successes. Ironically, his policies, even in domestic affairs, were better understood and appreciated abroad than they were at home. Thus the support that he felt he needed in order to solidify his position had to come from the outside world, as it had the previous year, when he had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Besides, there was no better way for Gorbachev to regain the sense of being the undisputed president that he was before the coup than by immersing himself in international affairs, receiving foreign dignitaries, and making trips abroad.

During this period in late September and early October, with Yeltsin away from Moscow, there were none of the ambiguities of politics and protocol that arose when foreign visitors got their schedules muddled and met with the two presidents one right after the other. On these occasions the protocol service would have barely enough time to clear the Catherine Room in the Kremlin, the only setting grand enough for diplomatic talks.

After the Cable News Network (CNN) broadcast a joint interview with Gorbachev and Yeltsin on September 6, the blunt, pragmatic American journalists kept asking the two of them to make television appearances together. The Western media even seriously discussed the possibility of the two presidents making joint trips abroad, either to participate in a NATO meeting together or to speak at the U.N. Gorbachev had to put up with this absurd situation, of course; but he had no intention of giving up his legitimately acquired position as a world leader or of sharing it with Yeltsin, who was energetic but, Gorbachev felt, ill-suited for the role.

There was another, purely personal reason behind Gorbachev's fondness for meetings with foreign guests, whether politicians or journalists. His training and abilities lay essentially in the area of oral communication, and he felt that he thought more deeply, reacted more forcefully, and formulated his ideas more precisely in a conversational setting, where he often hit upon the most convincing arguments, the perfect phrase, the most striking metaphors. This type of personal contact, which was gradually supplanting discussions with his opponents and

-13-

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Final Days: The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Soviet Union
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword - ARCHIE BROWN ix
  • Preface xv
  • Mending the Breach 1
  • Reinforcements From The Second Front 13
  • On a Crumbling Verge 33
  • A President Without a Country 47
  • One Last Mission For the Union 59
  • On the Eve Of the Seventy-Fourth Anniversary Of the October Revolution 85
  • The Mirage Of a Confederal State 97
  • A Free Man With Nothing to Fear 113
  • A Cloud in Trousers 119
  • Fight to the Finish 127
  • Final Hours 145
  • Checking the Pulse 153
  • Last Rites 159
  • Burying a Time Capsule 169
  • Departure 175
  • Afterword: - A Mythical Kingdom Vanishes--Again 195
  • Appendix: Resignation Speech of Mikhail Gorbachev - Delivered at 7:00 P.M. on December 25, 1991 203
  • Notes 207
  • About the Book and Author 214
  • Index 215
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