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RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 156, 19 August 1991


State Committee for the State of Emergency in the USSR has taken
over power in the Soviet Union, Radio Moscow announced at 6:45
A.M. this morning (August 19). The committee consists of first
deputy chairman of the Defense Council, Oleg Baklanov; KGB chief
Vladimir Kryuchkov; Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov; Minister
of Internal Affairs Boris Pugo; Defense Minister Dmitrii Yazov;
Vice President Gennadii Yanaev; Vasilii Starodubtsev, representing
kolkhoz peasants; and Aleksandr Tizyakov, representing the military-industrial
complex. There is no one explicitly representing the CPSU, even
though all the committee members are Communists. The committee
issued a statement proclaiming a state of emergency throughout
the country. The statement was signed by three members of the
committee--Baklanov, Pavlov and Yanaev. (Alexander Rahr)

a decree this morning, according to TASS, which announced that
he was assuming the responsibilities of USSR President as of
today (August 19) "in connection with Mikhail Gorbachev's inability,
for reasons of health, to carry out his duties as President of
the USSR." The decree cited as its basis Article 127, point 7
of the USSR Constitution. (Sallie Wise)

for the State of Emergency issued its first decree, as reported
by TASS this morning, banning all rallies, demonstrations, and
strikes, and announcing the control the mass media by special
bodies of the Committee. The decree instructs the ministries
of Defense and Internal Affairs, the Procuracy, and the KGB to
ensure public order and state security. It said a curfew would
be imposed if necessary. At the same time, the decree orders
industrial enterprises to function normally. The decree also
says activities by political parties and mass movements will
be banned if they interfere with normalization of the situation.
(Sallie Wise)

heads of state and governments and the UN General Secretary,
dated August 19, Vice President Gennadii Yanaev, who has been
named acting USSR President, assured the rest of the world that
"the emergency measures [adopted in the USSR] in no way touch
on the international obligations that the USSR has taken upon
itself or on the treaties and agreements currently in force."
Given the potential for internal conflict that the coup creates,
foreign powers are unlikely to be reassured. (Elizabeth Teague)

days immediately before the coup, opposition to the Union treaty
had been building to a head with criticism from the USSR Cabinet
of Ministers, the head of the USSR State Bank, and RSFSR deputies.
Both Gorbachev and RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin were, for different
reasons, however, determined to push ahead with the signing of
the treaty tomorrow (August 20), though it appeared that the
document was an unsatisfactory compromise. The appeal of the
Committee for the State of Emergency described the results of
the March 17 referendum on the preservation of the Union as having
been trampled on. The Committee promised that it would conduct
a broad nationwide discussion of the draft of the new Union treaty
in which everyone would have the right to consider the document
in a calm atmosphere and determine their attitude towards it.
(Ann Sheehy)

of the USSR Supreme Soviet Anatolii Luk'yanov on his view of
the Union treaty was distributed today, TASS reported August
19. Luk'yanov, who had been trying in vain for some time to defend
the standpoint of the all-Union parliament, complained that the
text did not reflect the results of the March 17 referendum,
and that changes made to the text since the Supreme Soviet debated
the final draft had not taken sufficient account of the Supreme
Soviet's objections. He cited in particular that the text would
have allowed the republics to suspend the operation of all-Union
laws, thus perpetuating the "war of laws." Luk'yanov called for
further discussion of the treaty by the USSR Supreme Soviet and
the USSR Congress of People's Deputies, and suggested that there
should possible be another referendum in connection with the
adoption of a new constitution. (Ann Sheehy)

broadcasting at 11:30 A.M. this morning, as scheduled. The Committee
for the State of Emergency seems to have stopped all independent
media immediately after the coup. All four Soviet TV channels
available at RFE/RL (including those broadcasting to completely
different time zones) broadcast classical music throughout this
morning. This was followed by a report on the happy married life
of a Soviet football star, then by a football match, followed
by a ballet. The broadcast was interrupted periodically by the
solemn reading of the first decrees of the Committee for the
State of Emergency. A Soviet TV speaker announced this morning
that all TV programs across the USSR will air only the programs
of Central TV's First Channel. Western news agencies have reported
that the independent radio Ekho Moskvy was occupied by KGB officers
and ordered to stop broadcasting. (Julia Wishnevsky and Elizabeth

TANKS ON MOSCOW STREETS. CNN this morning showed what Soviet
TV did not--Moscow being patrolled by tanks. CNN showed a column
of tanks entering Moscow from the west along the main thoroughfare,
Kutuzovsky Prospekt, and ripping up the pavements as it moved
in the direction of the Kremlin. RFE/RL's Russian service has
received reports of demonstrations on Red Square, but these have
not been yet confirmed. (Elizabeth Teague)

GORBACHEV UNDER ARREST? CNN reported (11:00 CEST) that, according
to sources in Moscow, Gorbachev has been placed under arrest.
His whereabouts are unknown. He had been due to return to Moscow
from his holiday in the Crimea in time for the signing of the
Union treaty tomorrow. (Elizabeth Teague)

YELTSIN DEFIANT. CNN also reported, which Soviet TV has not yet,
on a press conference given by RSFSR president Boris Yeltsin
at the headquarters of the RSFSR government at 1100 Moscow time
on August 19. Describing the coup as "madness" and "an illegal
act," Yeltsin said he himself would "never be removed by anyone
but the people of Russia." His credentials, Yeltsin repeated,
come "from the people." Yeltsin called for Gorbachev's reinstatement
and appealed to the Moscow population to stage a huge protest
demonstration in defense of democracy. He expressed the hope
that leaders of other Soviet republics would support his position.
Yeltsin added that he had been unable to speak to Gorbachev.
After his press conference, Yeltsin stood on a tank outside the
RSFSR government building and appealed to Soviet citizens to
defy the Committee for the State of Emergency, Western agencies
reported from Moscow. Yeltsin told a large group of demonstrators
that strikes are already breaking out in opposition to the takeover.
Yeltsin called for a nationwide protest strike, and said people
are following his appeal as soon as they hear it. Yeltsin also
demanded that Gorbachev, who he said is being detained at his
holiday home in the Crimea, be allowed to appear on television
to address the country. The crowd outside the RSFSR building
seems, for the moment, according to CNN, to have stopped the
advance of tanks toward the center of Moscow. (Elizabeth Teague,
Alexander Rahr and Sallie Wise)

NAZARBAEV'S WHEREABOUTS UNKNOWN. Another man likely to prove
key actor as the drama unfolds is the president of Kazakhstan,
Nursultan Nazarbaev. Nazarbaev was quoted by TASS August 17 as
saying he planned to fly to Moscow with Yeltsin on August 18,
in preparation for the signing of the Union treaty on August
20. Where Nazarbaev is now, is unknown. (Elizabeth Teague)

parliamentarian and leader of the "Democratic Russia" movement,
predicted August 19 that there will be massive resistance in
the USSR to Gorbachev's ouster. Afanas'ev was interviewed during
a visit to RFE/RL in Munich. He said he would return to Moscow
as quickly as possible, because "We must continue our work there."
He said he knew he might be arrested on his return but was ready
to take the risk. He predicted that parts of the armed forces
would refuse to follow the lead of defense minister Yazov and
asserted his belief that violence would not stop the democratic
forces in the USSR, merely change the ways in which they work.
(Chuck Lambeth and Elizabeth Teague)

COUP NOT UNEXPECTED. The anti-Gorbachev coup was not entirely
unexpected. Apart from the warnings of an impending Stalinist
dictatorship made by liberals, such as Gorbachev's closest associates
Eduard Shevardnadze and Aleksandr Yakovlev, right-wingers themselves
have been rather open about their intentions. Even in early 1990,
a engineer called Yurii Brovko in a little-known newspaper of
the Moscow builders' union called, in so many words, on the military
to stage a coup to save the country from Jews; Brovko has been
supported in the military press. In the past months, the idea
of a coup has became a regular theme in the conservative press,
such as the monthly Nash sovremennik (No. 6) and the newspaper
of the hardline "Soyuz" group of USSR people's deputies. On July
23, Sovetskaya Rossiya published a manifesto, Word to the People,
calling on for a coup and introducing emergency rule. The manifesto
was signed by the first deputy ministers of defense and internal
affairs, as well as by kolkhoz leader Vasilii Starodubtsev and
industrialist Aleksandr Tizyakov, who are members of the State
Committee for the State of Emergency. (Julia Wishnevsky)

FROM 1964 TO 1991: A COMPARISON. The announcement of the coup
in the Soviet Union started with an implausible reference to
Gorbachev's "ill health," exactly as in 1964 after a CPSU CC
plenum had overthrown Nikita Khrushchev. However, there is a
significant difference. No explanation for the coup was offered
in 1964, while today, the Committee for the State of Emergency
did bother to explain its reasoning. (Julia Wishnevsky)

CABINET OF MINISTERS MET BEFORE COUP. One day before the apparent
coup in the Soviet Union, the Presidium of the USSR Cabinet of
Ministers met to discuss the impact of the signing of the Union
Treaty on the center, TASS reported on August 17. The Presidium
issued a statement saying that the present draft of the Union
Treaty would deprive the center of power and destroy the Soviet
Union's economic and political integrity. The Presidium stated
that the majority of the republics are not able to stand on their
own feet. The Presidium urged representatives of the center and
republican leaders to alter the present draft. Gorbachev seems
not to have attended the meeting. (Alexander Rahr)

LANDSBERGIS ADDRESSES LITHUANIA. In an address broadcast by Radio
Independent Lithuania on August 19, Lithuanian Supreme Council
Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis warned that the new Soviet leadership
poses a threat to Lithuanian independence, and appealed for calm
in case martial law or a puppet regime is imposed. "Our greatest
weapon is our spirit," Landsbergis said, calling for civil disobedience
and non-collaboration in the event of a dictatorship. Landsbergis
asked parliament deputies to meet at the Supreme Council as soon
as possible for an emergency session. Regardless of whatever
will happen, he said, "we know that the darkest hour of the night
is before the dawn." (Gytis Liulevicius)

Independent Lithuania reported that Soviet troops had taken over
the Kaunas radio and television station that morning. In an statement
broadcast in Lithuanian, Russian, Polish, English, German, and
French, the radio said that it was the last station of independent
Lithuania and warned that its transmissions might be stopped.
They were. Landsbergis told RFE/RL's Lithuanian service to inform
his deputy Kazimieras Motieka, who was visiting Germany, not
to return to Lithuania and to be ready to represent Lithuania
from abroad. The radio also appealed to the people to gather
at the parliament and protect it. (Saulius Girnius)

of Latvia at 11:00 A.M. on Radio Riga today, Latvian Supreme
Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs said that a coup d'etat
has taken place in the USSR; power has been seized by an unconstitutional
state of emergency committee, and that this unlawful committee
has no authority in Latvia. He urged the people not cooperate
with unlawful groups. Gorbunovs stressed that currently the situation
in Latvia is quiet, that governing bodies at all levels are functioning
normally, and that there was no reason to declare a state of
emergency in Latvia. He asked the people to maintain peace and
order, and, should the need arise, to engage in peaceful protest.
In conclusion he emphasized that all rightful power and authority
belong to the people of Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs)

the Latvian Supreme Council Presidium and the Council of Ministers
met at 10:00 A.M. to consider the implications for Latvia of
the USSR state of emergency. According to Radio Riga of August
19, at noon today the Supreme Council is holding a special plenary
session. The board of the People's Front of Latvia is also holding
a special meeting at noon. The leadership of the Latvian Democratic
Labor Party (formed by liberal communists who split from the
conservative, pro-Moscow Latvian Communist Party in the spring
of 1990), announced its support for the speech of Gorbunovs,
thus indicating that it does not advocate the policies of those
who announced the USSR state of emergency. (Dzintra Bungs)

Speaking at 1:30 P.M. today (August 19) on Radio Riga after the
board meeting of the People's Front of Latvia, PFL chairman Romualdas
Razukas urged the front's members to activate the emergency procedures
drawn up on December 11, 1990. These procedures were used in
January 1991 when Soviet forces attempted to topple the Latvian
government and disband the Latvian Supreme Council. Razukas said
that while the danger of an attempt by Moscow to impose a governor
general in the Baltics exists, people should remain calm and
determined to pursue the course toward independence that they
have chosen; should the need arise, they should be ready to engage
in civil disobedience. Razukas also said that the 52nd anniversary
of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact on August 23 will be observed
as planned. (Dzintra Bungs)


YAKOVLEV QUITS THE CPSU. Aleksandr Yakovlev has announced his
resignation from the CPSU. His statement was published in Izvestia
on August 16, the day after the Soviet media had reported the
recommendation by the Buro of the Presidium of the CPSU Central
Control Commision that Yakovlev be expelled from the CPSU. Yakovlev
wrote that no one had talked to him before the decision was made.
(In an interview with RSFSR radio and television later that day,
Yakovlev revealed that he had learned about this decision only
because his wife, by sheer chance, had switched on the radio
and called him up.) Yakovlev termed the way he was treated by
the CCC "a personal insult and violation of a Party member's
rights." In such a situation, Yakovlev concluded, he considered
it "no longer possible, and indeed, immoral to serve the cause
of democratic reforms within the framework of the Soviet Communist
party." (Julia Wishnevsky)

which now appears prescient, Yakovlev wrote that "an influential
Stalinist group has formed within the Party's leadership core"
and that reactionaries are planning a vindictive Stalinist coup
d'etat. Despite their liberal declarations, Yakovlev wrote, the
leadership of the CPSU is ridding the Party of its reformist
"democratic" wing in order to be prepared "for social revenge
--a Party and state coup." In an interview with RSFSR radio and
television, Yakovlev said that the "revanchist," Stalinist movement
consists of top Party officials as well as commanders of the
military and law and order bodies. "I cannot name a single regional
Party secretary who does not participate in it," Yakovlev told
Vesti August 16. (Julia Wishnevsky)

CPSU General Secretary and his old friend Mikhail Gorbachev had
been aware in advance that the Party Control Commision was going
to expel Yakovlev from the CPSU, Yakovlev said that he did not
know. (Vesti, Radio Rossii, Moskovskii komsomolets, August 16).
"I feel," Yakovlev added, that in his capacity as USSR President
Gorbachev "does exercise control in the country," but as the
General Secretary he controls the Party "only to a very small
extent." (Julia Wishnevsky)

STATE TELEVISION SEIZED BY CPSU. On August 16, the popular youth
show VID was interrupted by a forty-minute round table discussion
of three CPSU leaders discussing the draft of a new Party program.
This discussion was not in the program schedule, nor was there
an interview with the new RSFSR CP leader, Valentin Kuptsov,
to have been broadcast in primetime, after the Vremya newscast,
on August 15. At the same time, elected officials--whether RSFSR
President Yeltsin or the mayors of Moscow and Leningrad--were
not allowed to air their views on Central TV, except in the news.
Moreover, Vremya, which on August 15 had broadcast the CPSU Control
Commission statement that Yakovlev should be expelled from the
Party, did not bother to mention his statement on the following
day. (Julia Wishnevsky)

MDR SUPPORTS YAKOVLEV. Yakovlev's concern over the purge of reformers
from the CPSU was echoed, also on August 16, in a statement by
the Movement for Democratic Reforms, and in Eduard Shevardnadze's
interview with Vesti. The CCC decision to expelled Yakovlev,
whom Shevardnadze called "a war hero and a hero of perestroika,"
is indeed a unusual development. Since Nikita Khrushchev rid
himself of an "anti-Party" group of Stalin's accomplices in the
late 1950s, no former Politburo member has been expelled from
the CPSU, despite the charges of corruption and abuse waged against
some of them in the Soviet media. (Julia Wishnevsky)

an interview with Sovetskaya Rossiya August 17, Chairman of the
USSR Gosbank Viktor Gerashchenko reaffirmed and reinforced his
opposition to the Union treaty in its latest formulation. (He
had voiced objections in last week's edition of Moscow News,
other Soviet media, and in an interview with The Financial Times).
Gerashchenko called the lack of adequate provisions on monetary
issues "an error and a big mistake." He cited Western expert
support for a unified state monetary and credit policy. And he
spelled out the amendments that he deemed necessary to the text
of the Union Treaty, implying that he would resign if the changes
were not made. (Keith Bush)

MORE ON PAVLOV'S PRESS CONFERENCE. Further details of Prime Minister
Valentin Pavlov's press conference of August 13 have emerged.
The account carried in Izvestia of August 14 makes it clear that
a draft presidential decree calling for the introduction of a
state of emergency and the universal mobilization of transport
had indeed been prepared but the USSR Cabinet of Ministers had
decided against its adoption. Pavlov criticized the RSFSR decision
to raise coal miners' wages, claiming that Kuzbass wages were
now four to five times higher than in Karaganda. And he condemned
the RSFSR for agreeing to wage increases that would put the republican
budget a further 25 billion rubles in the red, in addition to
its existing deficit of 81 billion rubles. (Keith Bush)


GEORGIAN GOVERNMENT SHAKEUP. Georgian Prime Minister Tengiz Sigua
resigned his post August 18 following criticism of his government
by President Zviad Gamsakhurdia for failing to reverse the serious
economic crisis in the republic, TASS reported August 18. Gamsakhurdia
also fired foreign minister Giorgi Khoshtaria and deputy prime
minister Otar Kvilitaya. First deputy prime minister Murman Omanidze
was named to succeed Khoshtaria. In an emotional TV broadcast
August 17 Gamskahurdia charged that unnamed enemies were engaging
in "sabotage and betrayal" inside Georgia, Western agencies reported
August 18. (Liz Fuller)

HOSTAGE DRAMA IN NKAO CONTINUES. After initially demanding the
release of Armenians held by Azerbaijan, the Armenian militants
who last week took hostage up to 40 Soviet MVD troops demanded
August 16 that the Armenians be transferred to the RSFSR for
their cases to be investigated there. More troops were moved
into the region over the weekend as negotiations continued; on
August 18 two Soviet parliamentarians flew to the NKAO to join
the negotiations, Democratic Russia reported August 18. Three
people were killed and eleven injured in shooting in the region
August 18, Vremya reported that evening quoting Azerbaijani MVD
officials. (Liz Fuller)

YELTSIN IN ALMA-ATA. Yeltsin spent much of August 17 in talks
with Nazarbaev, according to Radio Moscow and TASS reports of
August 17 and 18. The official reason for the high-level visit
of RSFSR officials to Kazakhstan was the exchange of documents
ratifying a friendship treaty concluded between the two republics
last November. Russian TV broadcast a a press conference of the
two leaders on August 17, in which Nazarbaev said that he and
Yeltsin had worked out a proposal for a single economic entity
that would embrace all 15 republics. According to TASS, Yeltsin
told the press conference that the two presidents were dissatisfied
with those clauses of the Union Treaty that had resulted from
compromise and hoped to further reduce the power of the center.
(Bess Brown)

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