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Gorbachev sends wreath to memorial to democracy defenders in August 1991 ‘putsch’

August 22, 19:05 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Russian parliament defendors Vladimir Usov, Ilya Krichevsky and Dmitry Komar died in the August 1991 state coup attempt developments as they tried to stop a convoy of armored vehicles
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Tragic events in Moscow in August 1991 (archive)

Tragic events in Moscow in August 1991 (archive)

© Gennady Khamelyanin/Fotokhronika TASS

MOSCOW, August 22. /TASS/. Mikhail Gorbachev sent on Monday a wreath to the memorial in central Moscow commemorating the site where defenders of the White House (Russian parliament) died during the August 1991 ‘putsch’ or state coup attempt that precipitated the demise of the Soviet Union, the press service of the former Soviet leader told Tass.

"The inscription on the wreath reads ‘From Mikhail Gorbachev’," the press service said.

Vladimir Usov, Ilya Krichevsky and Dmitry Komar died in the ‘putsch’ developments as they attempted to stop a convoy of armored vehicles. The three posthumously received the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, and a memorial with their names written on it was installed at the junction of New Arbat Avenue and Garden Ring in central Moscow.

In a conversation with TASS ahead of the 25th anniversary of the August 1991 aborted coup in the Soviet Union, Gorbachev said lessons must be learned from what happened at that time.

"What lessons have we learned from what happened at that time? First of all, that plots, overthrowing authorities and forced attempts to throw the country off the path of normal development are unacceptable," he said.

"Such attempts have catastrophic consequences. Whatever difficulties may emerge, it is necessary to stay on the course within the constitutional, democratic framework," the last Soviet leader advised.

The former Soviet leader still qualifies the events as "an unconstitutional action and a plot."

The ad hoc committee comprising a group of high-level hardline members from the USSR Communist Party attempted a coup d’etat on August 19-21, 1991 to take control of the country and seize power from then-Soviet President Gorbachev. The putsch occurred just a day before Gorbachev intended to sign a new union treaty with Soviet republics on democratic principles.

Russia’s first President Boris Yeltsin and his team refused to obey the committee’s decrees. Thousands of Muscovites blocked entries to the Russian parliament building where Yeltsin and his close associates had been staying during the putsch. The committee was demoralized and decided against storming the Supreme Soviet of Russia to avoid casualties.

On August 21, 1991, former Vice-President of Russia Alexander Rutskoi flew to Crimea where Gorbachev had been vacationing and was isolated by the ad hoc committee. The Soviet president returned to Moscow that night but the fate of the entire Soviet Union and his own were already sealed. In the following months the former Soviet republics proclaimed their independence one after another and the Soviet Union eventually ceased to exist in December 1991.

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