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

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

E-MAIL FROM ALEKSEI KOZHEVNIKOV


5 On the Barricades

Dr. Aleksei Kozhevnikov of the Institute for the History of Science and Technology in Moscow wrote the following account--in English--to a friend in Berkeley, California, on August 22. He sent it by electronic mail and it was published in the Daily Californian.

The general situation is the following. Muscovites are defending the huge building of the Russian parliament right near the American Embassy. There are many politicians inside who organize the opposition, including Yeltsin, members of two parliament--Soviet and Russian-- and others. The first night there were about 10,000 people around the building. Yesterday noon there was a large rally with maybe 300,000 people if not more. And last night probably more than 50,000 were constantly staying in defense. Half of them were highly organized: they were divided into detachments and stood in lines close to each other around the walls and on the nearest barricades. Another half were sitting or moving around. There are many armored vehicles in various parts of Moscow. They move in complicated ways and no one, at least outside the building, understands clearly the military situation.

The radio announcements and rumors are contradictory and not very reliable. Soldiers, when spoken to, do not express readiness to fight with people. Most probably, some troops refused to fight and left the city, but new ones are coming. Two small detachments of tanks and armored vehicles came to the building to help in defense. Besides these places with troop--some blocks in the center of the city and around the parliament building--the rest of the city is quiet and ordinary life goes on. Although a curfew was proclaimed, it is not respected at all.

I stayed in the defense line the first night. The second night I went around carrying a placard with a call to soldiers for fraternization. The

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