The collapse of the Soviet Union was definitely not expected to happen without bloodshed, and few would have ever guessed for it to play out the way it did. Most if asked would have thought that its destruction would have come from an outside intervention, either a conventional or nuclear strike, but this is far from the truth. During the last breathes of Lenin’s glorious party, the people no longer were in support of a communist republic, but acknowledged they were much in need of change. The days of waiting hours at a supermarket for a tiny piece of meat were nearing to a close.
The Coup took place when eight members of the Soviet high command started to see that their power was quickly slipping from their control towards Boris Eltsin and his Democratic views. In order to change this order of events, these eight party members (which included the Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, and head of the KGB), tried to stage that Gorbachev had become sick by holding him captive within his own presidential vacation home. Next, soldiers were sent in to the streets of Moscow to try to “maintain order”. Yet these soldiers and KGB agents who were tasked with this refused to fire on their own people, and instead peacefully waited around and let the demonstrations against the communists continue. The coup was not going nearly as those who had planned it had hoped, and it was about to take a turn for the worst.
With the country on its last leg, it needed a leader to step up and take control, and that is exactly what Boris Eltsin did. Although some have mixed opinions on him due to his well-known drinking habits, during August 1991 he performed as any positive historical figure would. Eltsin, accompanied by his follows, march to the center of Moscow where the main demonstrations were taking place, and stood up on a tank that was supposed to be protecting the Soviet Union. In this moment though, it served as a podium for Democracy. Eltsin spoke and told the people to not be afraid, and to come embrace his version of democracy. In the picture taken, the Soviet tank commander hides his head in shame as Eltsin speaks. Days after this event when Gorbachev eventually returned to the capital, his country had completely changed. He was no longer in control, even in the Soviet parliament where he was bashed and mocked by Eltsin. This marked an end to a truly incredible era.