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

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

"A Free Man with Nothing to Fear"

For the first few days after the meeting of the State Council, Gorbachev was unable to calm down. He kept describing the ups and downs of the meeting to anyone in his inner circle who had not been there, reliving all the dramatic moments of the confrontation, the clash of ideas and personalities, and the keen sensation of danger and victory.

"I was completely calm," he told Chernyaev and me. "I had no fear of losing, so I didn't feel that I was under any pressure. I was just following my convictions, and I told them so. I explained to them that they, however, were not free if they had to worry about other people's opinions, moods, and ambitions. And they realized that I was going to leave if they didn't accept my arguments.

"You see, I am willing to build any kind of union--federal, confederal, whatever--but build it, not destroy it. And when they realized I was serious, they all got flustered and immediately asked to take a break." He turned to Chernyaev. "I really would have left, you know; and you would have lost your president and his press secretary at one blow."

Gorbachev obviously relished the new freedom that he had gained. It was the freedom of a man who not only had made a choice in his own mind but had placed his fate in the balance, uncompromisingly and with determination, in order to achieve his goals. For years he had tacked into the prevailing political winds, invented ingenious maneuvers, and, at times, struck dubious compromises. He considered these moves to be the inescapable lot of any responsible reformer, and the price that had to be paid for progress. But now he had discovered--late in the game, unfortunately--the pleasure of openly expressing his thoughts and feelings. He found with astonishment that risk-taking and candor could yield greater results than political strategems. He probably arrived at this sense of inner freedom at Foros in August, when he refused to cooperate with the putschists, preferring seclusion and freedom to power with his hands tied.

Gorbachev also shared his impressions of the meeting of the State Council with his foreign guests. In a conversation with India's minister of foreign affairs, Madhavsinh Solanki, he said, "We had a tough discussion, but in the end we all came to the conclusion that it was imperative to construct a united state with a

-113-

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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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