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

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

3 Statements and Explanations by the Putschists After the Coup

Document 1: Interrogation of Defense Minister Dmitrii Yazov on August 22, 1991

In a post-coup interrogation held on August 22 by state investigators Leganov and Sychev, former Defense Minister Dmitrii Yazov confirmed that the coup attempt began when it did because the plotters wanted to prevent the signing of a new Union Treaty, a document that Yazov and his co-conspirators believed would bring the political death of the Soviet Union. Perhaps better than any other document, the interrogation shows the mentality of the people who brought the country to the brink of catastrophe. This transcript of the interrogation first appeared in Der Spiegeland was subsequently reprinted in Izvestiia ( October 10, 1991). It is reproduced here in English translation with only minor omissions.

[. . .]

Investigator: You must understand that you are being interrogated in connection with your role in a crime that is defined as treason, conspiracy with the aim of seizing power, abuse of office. Now I would like to know how you respond to this accusation.

Yazov: I have a somewhat different view of what constitutes treason, and I don't want to hide this. Betrayal of the President, perhaps, but I did not betray my people or my country. I have known Gorbachev for a long time. We have worked together, solved many problems together.

Personally, I like Gorbachev very much. There must have been compelling reasons for me to go against the Commander-in-Chief of

-55-

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