Revisiting An Attempted Coup

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.

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Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of WIRED, explains the feud between Trump and Twitter and weighs in on Elon Musk's ambitious space plans:

What is happening between Trump and Twitter?

A lot. Twitter decided it had to fact check the president because the president said something that wasn't entirely true, and perhaps was false, about voting. Twitter cares a lot about lies about voting. So, they fact check Trump. Trump got really mad, said he's going to get rid of some of the laws that protect Twitter from liability when people say bad things on their platform. That started war number one.

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Trump promised a statement about China. Today's announcement was not about China. Most significant was about the World Health Organization, which is a distraction for Trump because it's weaker. They're reliant on the US, have no ability to hit back. But announcing they're pulling all funding and pulling out of the World Health Organization, the international governmental organization tasked with responding to pandemics, in the middle of a pandemic, is one of the stupidest foreign policy decisions that President Trump could make.

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The world's worst health crisis in a hundred years might not seem like the best time for the World Health Organization's biggest financial supporter to threaten to pull the plug on its operations, but that's where we are. On Friday afternoon, President Trump announced that the US is withdrawing entirely from the Organization.

The move comes ten days after the White House sent a withering four-page letter to the organization's Director General which accused the organization of ignoring early warnings about the virus' spread and bowing to Chinese efforts to downplay its severity. The letter closed with a threat to withdraw within 30 days unless the WHO shaped up to better serve "American interests." In the end, the Administration had patience only for 10 days after all.

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