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

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

Checking the Pulse

During the second ten days of December, Gorbachev worked feverishly to express his views to the country before it made the fatal move of putting the decisions of the "troika" into effect. He poured all his energy into this effort, using every avenue open to him, especially television and the press; unfortunately, his options were becoming fewer every day.

Various media organs and journalists who had been trying to get Gorbachev's attention for months, and who had obediently lined up to interview him, suddenly found that he was available. As Gorbachev divorced himself from the power and privileges of office, he unconsciously and instinctively demonstrated qualities that revealed what a remarkable politician he was, as he had done during the early years of perestroika. He tried to neutralize his opponents; he sought allies and found them among the people who made up his most reliable and natural base of support, whom he had previously neglected for that very reason.

During this period, he spoke for several hours with the editor in chief of Moscow News, Len Karpinsky, an old college friend. He also gave incisive interviews to Komsomolskaya pravda and to Vitaly Tretyakov of Nezavisimaya gazeta, who represented the new generation of postglasnost journalists.

He seemed to be discovering, with astonishment, the community of skilled, astute young journalists that had come together during the perestroika years. He came to the pleasant realization that for some time, he had not been as alone as he had thought. But he also realized that in their view, he was not--as he still believed himself to be--the irreplaceable leader and guardian of this flowering of democratic talent. And that was less pleasant.

The journalists, too, obviously benefited from these meetings: With Gorbachev's help, they could obtain the answers to many questions that millions of people throughout the dying empire were asking themselves and that they would have put to Gorbachev if they had had the chance. Sometimes, in fact, the journalists' questions were more interesting than the President's answers. But on some occasions, in making his reply, Gorbachev himself posed questions that only time and history could answer.

"Don't you feel, today," Tretyakov asked him, "that your policy goal of getting the Union Treaty signed and your pursuit of the Novo-Ogarevo process toward that end have proven to be mistaken?"

-153-

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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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