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

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

INTERVIEW WITH ANATOLII SOBCHAK


8 Breakthrough: The Coup in St. Petersburg

Anatolii Sobchak, a well-known lawyer and public figure, was the Mayor of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) and one of the most prominent members of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR when the coup tookplace. He was interviewed on August 26, 1991, by A. Golovkova and A. Chernovafor Moskovskie novosti.

The night of August 18-19 I spent in my Moscow official apartment.*

Early on Monday morning I was awakened by a telephone call. It was my friends from Kazakhstan calling to inform me about the military coup (thanks to the difference in time zones!).

My first move was to look out the window to see whether the building was surrounded. It was not. Otherwise, I would have had to go to my neighbors. The official building in Krylatskoe was filled with members of the USSR Supreme Soviet. I telephoned for the car and my bodyguard. Oleg was on duty that day (I will not divulge his last name for understandable reasons), but the actual guarding was being done by the boys on Yeltsin's team.

I found out that Yeltsin was expecting me at his dacha in Usovo, which is beyond Arkhangelskoe.

Tanks were rolling along the Outer Ring Road. What a pitiful sight. Right there on the highway shoulder, a tank was burning. No, nobody had set it on fire. It was burning by itself. Far more unpleasant: I ran into a group of paratroopers as I turned off the Outer Ring Road. But they did not stop me.

____________________
*

Many members of the USSR Supreme Soviet who were not permanent residents of Moscow had special apartments in the capital for official use.

-218-

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