August 28, 2021

Russia Turns Thirty



Russia Turns Thirty
August Coup at the Russian White House, 1991. Panoramio user David Broad

The dissolution of the Soviet Union was a process, not an event. But if it had been an event, that event – the August Coup – just had its 30th anniversary.

From August 19 to 22, 1991, communist hard-liners tried to wrest control of the collapsing government from Mikhail Gorbachev, who was giving every republic what it wanted until there was nothing left. The hard-liners surrounded the Russian White House, but Boris Yeltsin and his supporters defended it. Three people died and many more were wounded.

The communist coup failed, obviously, and Gorbachev was ousted, establishing the less-communisty Yeltsin as president of a new Russia. Most of the republics declared independence in the weeks and months that followed in what was called a "parade of sovereignties."

Russians are marking the occasion by watching VHS reels of 30 years ago on the news. Seriously, on Russia-1 News – the other Channel 1 – they keep showing video of actual stacks of VHS tapes to talk about the August Coup.

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