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 ALEKSANDR N. YAKOVLEV


9
Our Children Were on the Barricades

Aleksandr N. Yakovlev, along with Mikhail Gorbachev and Eduard Shevardnadze, was one of the founding fathers of perestroika and glasnost. A close associate of Gorbachev's, he became a full member of the Party Politburo in 1987 and soon earned a reputation as the most outspoken advocate of radical change. Increasingly frustrated with the conservative Party apparat, he resigned from the Politburo at the Twenty-eighth Party Congress in the summer of 1990, remaining a prominent, though at games distant and critical, member of Gorbachev's circle of advisers. Four days before the coup, he was expelled from the Party. The following interview was conducted by A. Shcherbakov, reporter for the magazine Ogonëk, where it appeared in the issue for August 31-September 7, 1991. During a visit to Berkeley and Stanford in February 1993, Yakovlev added some details to his account of the coup in an interview with Gregory Freidin. Excerpts from that conversation have been interpolated into the Ogonëk interview.

Yakovlev: I was awakened at 4:30 in the morning by the former general of the KGB, Oleg Kalugin, who told me the news of the coup d'état. I said to him: "Oleg, are you in your right mind?""Sane as sane can be" was his answer. I got out of bed and looked out of the window: on both sides of the street, there were unmarked cars filled with the "boys." I called Boris Nikolaevich Yeltsin. He ordered Viktor Barannikov, Russia's Minister of Internal Affairs, to take the necessary steps, and before long, a unit of Russia's security forces arrived at my door.

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