The Failed Coup

Eltsin addresses the People from the Tank (1991)
Eltsin addresses the People from the Tank (1991)

In 1991 the Soviet Union was on the brink of collapse. Economic stagnation crippled the economy. Centralized planning was no longer a viable economic option. The republics under Soviet domination began moving towards independence from the USSR. This state of emergency led to the final upheaval of power in the Soviet Union.

Fearful of the consequences of any dissolution or any change in the structure of the USSR, a band of conspirators from the highest levels of the Soviet government. On August 18th the deputy head of the security council, minister of defense, prime minister, head of the KGB, and a political unionist placed Gorbachev under house arrest. These five men formed the Committee on the State of Emergency. The Committee’s goal was to reinstate Soviet rule and law across the USSR. Gorbachev’s policies were used as the scapegoat for the diminished Soviet economy. Shortly after taking power, military and KGB units were sent to Moscow to keep order in the streets.

During the previous tumultuous years, Boris Yeltsin had risen to hold a considerable amount of power in Russia. His political agenda of ending the Soviet Union was viewed favorably by many of the Russian people. During the military occupation of Moscow, he gained considerable influence because of his leadership in the resistance against the government forces. The Committee was feeling their power disappear rapidly. When government forces were ordered to open fire on protestors, they refused. Without military support, the Committee was forced to admit defeat.

Gorbachev’s return to power was short. Yeltsin had grown so powerful during the coup that he was able to publicly humiliate Gorbachev and force him to disband the Communist party. Without a legitimate government, the declarations of independence from former satellite states, and continued economic woes, the Soviet Union soon collapsed.

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3 Responses to The Failed Coup

  1. mwill17 says:

    The events leading to the fall of the USSR are reminiscent of the revolutions during the rule of Nicholas II. The people were fed up with the incompetency of their leadership, there were riots in the streets of Moscow and even the military had turned their backs on the government. It just goes to show that you can only repress the people for so long before they demand change. Good post.

  2. amy925 says:

    The fall of the Soviet Union is an interesting thing to study. As the prior comment says, the events that occurred prior to the fall of the USSR are quite similar to the revolutions during the rule of Nicholas II. The people of Russia can only live under horrible conditions for so long before they want a new government.

  3. wilkins says:

    One may have thought that since there were many people who pushed for more freedoms and a more workable economy, there would be more support for Gorbachev. A nicely summarised blog, great detail, I felt that I learnt from it.

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