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

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

Fight to the Finish

The next day, during the interval between two sessions of the State Council, Gorbachev met with his aides. He outlined his trip around the country and the main impressions it had made on him: He felt that people wanted change and were willing to accept a lower standard of living in order to achieve it but that they expected the "center" to implement real measures. And there was something else that he had found very inspiring: Everywhere, from Irkutsk to Bishkek, the fate of the Union was a prime concern. According to Gorbachev, people felt that failure to preserve a unified state would mean disaster.

Gorbachev had been pleasantly surprised by the warm welcome he had received. He was certain that a large percentage of the population in the provinces sympathized with him and was willing to support him. And that meant that he had every reason to be optimistic about the outcome of a presidential election.

As usual, to "let off steam" from the day before, he described the last session of the State Council in detail, emphasizing the results that left some hope for a rational course, or at least did not preclude that possibility. "It's hard to work with people whose position changes every time the wind shifts," he complained. "Even the media apparently give more thought to the fate of the Union than some allegedly responsible politicians do."

In his opinion, at that session Yeltsin had contracted an obligation to start coordinating his decrees on price deregulation and the subsequent phases of reform with the republics. "If he doesn't do that, reform will become reckless adventurism," he said, using the phrase Yavlinsky had avoided. "We are in a situation where the train is already moving and everybody is running in front of it trying to lay track."

He asked his top political advisers and a few specially invited experts to offer their political and sociological prognosis as to how society would react to the changes the reform package was designed to introduce. This assessment was to be in the nature of a political timetable. "Because in the spring," he said, "the Right will be getting ready not to seize power but to pick it up where it has been dropped."

With the current economic problems beginning to weigh more and more heavily on the governments of the republics, Gorbachev's aides advised him to concentrate on the more general aspects of his office: He should be a symbol of the unity of the country, its strategic role internationally, its position in global politics, and its potential as a cultural and ethical force.

-127-

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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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