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One Day That Shook the World
Ten Years After the Soviet Coup

Russian President Boris Yeltsin, left, reads a statement from atop an armored personnel carrier during the abortive coup in Moscow in August 1991. (AP/File Photo)

On August 19, 1991, eight Communist Party hardliners led by Soviet Vice President Gennady Yanayev ousted President Mikhail Gorbachev. Their actions led to a three day coup d'etat which ended in dramatic fashion when Boris Yeltsin, the first popularly elected president in Russian history, stood atop a Soviet tank in defiance of the coup leaders and won the support of the Russian people.

Read how the events unfolded as reported in The Washington Post.

Day One
Close Aides Oust Gorbachev (Monday, August 19, 1991)
A group of President Mikhail Gorbachev's close aides announced that it had taken over power and established a state of emergency in order to save the Soviet Union from ethnic disintegration and economic chaos. – Michael Dobbs
spacer Statement by the Leaders' of Soviet Coup

Day Two
One Day That Shook the World (Tuesday, August 20, 1991)
The Soviet Union is a land of broken hearts, of people who can only wonder if they will have to wait once more through two decades of grim reaction and decay before another opening, – David Remnick
spacer Crowds in Moscow Protest Seizure
spacer Bush: Soviet Moves 'Misguided and Illegitimate'
spacer Gorbachev's Resilience Obscured Perils

Day Three
Protesters Confront Tanks in Moscow (Wednesday, August 21, 1991)
Communist hard-liners who ousted president Mikhail Gorbachev sent tank columns near the Russian republic's parliament, provoking scattered skirmishes with demonstrators defending the building. – Michael Dobbs
spacer Bush Moves to Isolate New Soviet Leadership
spacer Gorbachev Reported Under House Arrest
spacer Yeltsin: 'Country Is Faced With the Threat of Terror'
spacer Opposition to Soviet Coup Reported Spreading

Soviet Coup Fails (Thursday, August 22, 1991)
President Mikhail Gorbachev returned to the seat of power in the Soviet capital following the collapse of the three-day coup and the arrest of members of the disbanded junta. – Michael Dobbs
spacer Three Days of Drama, Terror Will Shape Future
spacer Coup Resisters 'Not Heroes, But We Are Patriots'
spacer Yeltsin, Once a 'Pariah,' Achieves Reputation as World-Class Hero
spacer For Soviets, a Time of Renewed Promise and Peril

'I Want to Breathe the Air of Freedom in Moscow' (Thursday, August 22, 1991)
The details of President Mikhail Gorbachev's political miscalculations, his capture and his liberation became clearer in the aftermath of the three-day Soviet coup. – David Remnick
spacer Gorbachev Reclaims Control
spacer Alcohol Said to Fuel Coup by Gang of 8
spacer Failed Coup Hastens End of Totalitarian System
spacer Bush Sees Gorbachev Free to Expedite Reform

© 2001 The Washington Post Company