Russia at the Barricades: Eyewitness Accounts of the August 1991 Coup

By Victoria E. Bonnell; Ann Cooper et al. | Go to book overview

2 The Press Conference of the State Committee for the State of Emergency, August 19, 1991

On the evening of Monday, August 19, five of the eight plotters ( Yanaev, Baklanov, Pugo, Starodubtsev, and Tiziakov) held their first and only press conference at the Foreign Ministry's press center in central Moscow. Millions of people gathered by their televisions and radios to learn more about the fate of their country. With visibly trembling hands and evident confusion, Gennadii Yanaev came forward as spokesman for the Emergency State Committee and Acting President. Below is a slightly abridged translation of the transcript of the press conference.

Yanaev: Ladies and gentlemen, friends and comrades: As you already know from media reports, because Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev is unable, owing to the state of his health, to discharge the duties of President of the USSR, the USSR Vice President has temporarily taken over the performance of the duties of the President on the basis of Article 127(7) of the USSR Constitution.

I address you today, ladies and gentlemen, at a moment that is crucial for the destinies of the Soviet Union and the international situation throughout the world.

Having embarked on the path of profound reforms and having gone a considerable way in this direction, the Soviet Union has now reached a point at which it finds itself faced with a deep crisis, the further development of which could both place in question the course of reforms itself and lead to serious cataclysms in international life.

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