The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB

By Christopher Andrew; Vasili Mitrokhin | Go to book overview

Committee for the State of Emergency. The plotters quickly discovered, however, that the old autocratic machinery of the one-party state was in too serious a state of disrepair for them to be able to turn back the clock. The Alpha group spetsnaz was supposed to storm the Moscow White House, the seat of government of the Russian Federation, and arrest its president, Boris Yeltsin, but failed to do either. Not one of the 7,000 reformers on the plotters' detention list was arrested. The coup crumbled farcically and ignominiously in only four days. Pugo committed suicide. "Forgive me," he wrote in a note to his children and grandchildren. "It was all a mistake. I lived honestly, all my life." As Yazov was being led to a prison van, he said to those who arrested him, "Everything is clear now. I am such an old idiot. I've really fucked up." Kryuchkov lacked sufficient self-knowledge to reach a similar conclusion.100

The result of the final special action organized by the KGB was thus the precise opposite of what Kryuchkov and his fellow plotters had intended, accelerating both the collapse of the Communist one-party state and the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The coup also ended in unprecedented humiliation for the KGB. On the evening of August 21 a heavy crane arrived in front of the Lubyanka and, before a cheering crowd, hoisted the giant statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky by a noose around his neck, toppled him from his pedestal and dragged him away to a field near the Tretyakov gallery, which became a graveyard for statues of the Soviet regime.


APPENDIX "SPECIAL POLITICAL ACTION" PROPOSED BY THE ATHENS RESIDENCY TO THE CENTRE IN APRIL 1969

Our operational letter no. 24/[Line]F of April 14, 1969 sets out a draft plan for carrying out a Lily [sabotage operation] against the target codenamed VAZA ["Vase"].

The operation is codenamed YAYTSO ["Egg"].

The aim and purpose of the operation is to cause moral and political damage to the south-east wing of NATO.

Constant disagreements between Greece and Turkey cause great concern to the leadership of the USA and NATO and are a weak link in American policy in the area of southeast Europe.

Carrying out a Lily on the VAZA could exacerbate relations between Greece and Turkey.

The operation would be carried out in the name of a Greek who had come from Turkey and was dissatisfied with the situation of the Greek minority there (there can also be another variant [pretext] for carrying out the sabotage).

VAZA is a two-storey house in Thessaloniki. The house and its annex belong to the Turkish consulate-general . . . There is no furniture, only a table, iron troughs and a cooking stove.

On the upper floor of the house there are displays with Atat;Anrk [the Turkish national hero]'s clothes and a photographic portrait of him. Apart from a desk there is no furniture.

-394-

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