Monday, November 5


I remember those days son. We were in India at that time. For supposedly a group in a country which made revolutions into an ideology, they were useless at making the coup happen. 

Couple of things son. First is that coups and attempted fratricide like this are extremely dangerous not just in the short term but in the long term. When kings and presidents are overthrown by force, something happens to the national psyche and causes faith in the state to be weakened. Until and unless something extraordinary happens, once there is a coup, there is a good chance that it will happen again. Look at Pakistan and Bangladesh for examples. 

Militaries therefore have to be kept under very very tight control. Read up on a classic book by Samuel Huntingdon on civil military relations if you want to know more about this. 

Second is my experience with the Russians. One of my saleswomen in Russia once told me, you are lucky that you own and live your own history. Russians have always been very badly blessed with atrocious leaders and they always had a tragic history. Something about that country, that vast huge awesome country just makes one look and shake one's head. It has always promised much and delivered little. So putting your money in there should be done very carefully if at all. Strange place. 





For the first time, Boris Yeltsin’s right-hand man tells the inside story of the coup that killed glasnost — and changed the world.


“That scum!” Boris Yeltsin fumed. “It’s a coup. We can’t let them get away with it.”

It was the morning of Aug. 19, 1991, and the Russian president was standing at the door of his dacha in Arkhangelskoe, a compound of small country houses outside Moscow where the top Russian government officials lived. I had raced over from my own house nearby, after a friend called from Moscow, frantic and nearly hysterical, insisting that I turn on the radio. There had been a coup; Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev had been removed from power.

Five minutes later I was at Yeltsin’s dacha, an unassuming two-story yellow brick building, where a small group of his closest associates soon gathered. In addition to me (at the time, his secretary of state), there was Ivan Silayev, the head of the Russian cabinet; Ruslan Khasbulatov, the acting chairman of the Supreme Soviet; Mikhail Poltoranin, the minister of press and mass information; Sergei Shakhrai, the state councilor; and Viktor Yaroshenko, the minister of foreign economic relations. Anatoly Sobchak, the mayor of Leningrad, and Yuri Luzhkov, the deputy mayor of Moscow, arrived not long after. Everyone crowded into Yeltsin’s small living room.

For months we had half-expected something like this. By the summer of 1991, the Soviet Union was falling apart at the seams. The economy was imploding, the deficit was ballooning, hard currency and gold reserves had been decimated, and Gorbachev’s stopgap reforms had only exacerbated the crisis. The notion of a “Soviet people,” unified under the banner of socialism, was collapsing along with it. Legislatures in the republics, which had already demanded greater freedoms within the USSR, began calling for independence. By the spring of 1991, five republics — Armenia, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, and Lithuania — had declared it officially. In Russia, democratic forces wanted an end to Soviet totalitarian rule. Our aim was not to allow the chaotic dissolution of the USSR, but to transform it into a confederation that would afford each republic considerable self-determination under its aegis.

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