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MOSCOW, December 13. /TASS/. Former USSR president Mikhail Gorbachev explained why he did not try to arrest Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Belarusian head Stanislav Sushkevich and Ukrainian leader Leonid Kravchuk who signed an agreement on dissolving the Soviet Union in 1991, the so-called Belavezha Accords.
In an interview with TASS devoted to the 25th anniversary of the dissolution of USSR, Gorbachev said that the arrest of Yeltsin, Sushkevich and Kravchuk could have led to a civil war. "I think this would smell of a civil war. It would have been dangerous to do this to retain power instead of using democratic methods," Gorbachev said. "I did a different thing ― I gave up power. I resigned to avoid bloodshed," he added.
The former Soviet leader said among the factors that contributed to the dissolution of USSR were the coup attempt in August 1991 and certain personality traits of the first president of Russia Boris Yeltsin. "I think the coup attempt (in August 1991) had most serious consequences," Gorbachev said. Stressing that he was "defending the USSR till the very end," Gorbachev does not decline his "share of responsibility." "I had to break up with that gang, that's the only word that describes them," he noted.
Gorbachev said Yeltsin was "a very ambitious person, endlessly ambitious." "He was very disappointed and displeased that he was not a Politburo member. That was the reason for all his protests," the former Soviet leader explained. "Boris Yeltsin got ill-tempered, he just did not realize that his role was important but it does not imply what he started to do. And what he started to do was the struggle against the Union's center," he added.
On 8 December 1991 the leaders of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus Boris Yeltsin, Leonid Kravchuk and Stanislav Sushkevich signed Belavezha Accords on the dissolution of USSR and establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). On 25 December 1991 Mikhail Gorbachev resigned from the position of USSR president.
The full text of the interview is available at http://tass.com/politics/918866