DAY THREE OF
THE AUGUST COUP
Moscow, the USSR
August 20, 1991
President of Kazakhstan
Photographed in 1997
In office in 1991, and still in office today
From RUSSIA REDUX, Chapter Eight:
Gorbachev has described the coup plotters "as 'egotistical careerists' who decided to act against him when it became clear that there would be no place for them in the new order." The new order was to be brought into being by the signing of the Union Treaty on August 20, 1991; it "would have reshaped the Soviet Union as a loose confederation of sovereign states and resulted in a major government shake-up." So it was not just some abstract concerns about intergovernmental structures which drove the conspirators, according to their patron, but the detailed knowledge about kto kogo -- who was going to do what to whom.
For Gorbachev was convinced, afterwards, that his conversations with the top republican leaders at Novo-Ogarëvo were bugged, and what they contained was dynamite. Gorbachev has been releasing this dynamite in pieces. In an early version he revealed that:
Yeltsin, Nazarbayev, and I already had an understanding that once the Union Treaty had been signed, and without waiting for the new constitution, we would move toward new organs of power and new elections. We were thinking in terms of agreeing this [sic] with other republic leaders too. Thus, new people would have come to the fore.
Boris Yeltsin of Russia, Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, and Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union, had reached an understanding.
Thousands had come to defend the Russian "White House," Yeltsin's base.
Three young men did die in that defense, on the night of August 20, 1991.