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

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

MIKHAIL S. GORBACHEV


1What Happened in Foros

After returning from his summer residence in the Crimea, where he was held incommunicado for three days, Gorbachev held his first press conference on Thursday, August 22. He devoted most of his long opening statement to an account of his and his family's isolation at the Presidential compound in Foros, his dealings with the conspirators, and his attempts to resist their will. He spoke without notes and without pausing, ignoring the occasional gentle tugs of his press aide, Vitalii Ignatenko. It is this account, extracted from the opening statement, that we reproduce in its entirety.

[. . .] On August 18, at 4:50 P.M., I was informed by the head of [Presidential] security that a group of persons had come down to the compound and demanded to meet with me. I said that I was expecting no one, that I had not invited anyone, and that nobody had told me to expect anyone. The head of security, too, told me that he did not know anything about it either. "Then why did you let them in?" "Because," was his answer, "they had the head of the Security Directorate of the KGB, [Yurii] Plekhanov, with them." Otherwise the security people would not have let them pass into the President's residence. Such are the rules; they are tough but necessary.

I decided to find out who might have sent them here. Nothing could be simpler, since I have at my disposal all means of communication: the ordinary [telephone] line, the government network, the strategic network, the satellite links, etc. . . . I picked up one of the telephones-- I was working in my office just then--and it was dead. I picked up another phone, a third, a fourth, a fifth; they were all dead. I picked up the internal telephone--disconnected. That was it. I was isolated.

I realized that this mission was not going to be the kind of mission

-161-

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