Finally, tomorrow marks the anniversary of the 1991 coup attempt against Mikhail Gorbachev in the dying days of the Soviet Union. A small group within the Soviet leadership tried to seize power while the Soviet leader was on vacation, but Boris Yeltsin, president of the Russian Republic within the USSR faced down the military, the plot collapsed, and Gorbachev returned to Moscow.
For a closer look, check out this video that Alex Kliment and I made two years ago.
The story is in the news again this week following a new poll on Russian attitudes toward that event. According to the Levada survey, just 6 percent of Russians say the defeat of the coup was a victory for democracy. Some 53 percent say “both sides” (coup-plotters and Yeltsin and pro-democracy activists) share blame for the violence. Among Russians aged 18-24, more than 40 percent said they couldn’t answer the question.
Interesting fact: On the first day of the 1991 coup, Vladimir Putin resigned his position as a KGB intelligence officer to join the fight against the attempted state takeover.