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The Putsch of August, 1991

Since 1989 power of the party and state nomenclature steadily weakened. New commercial and political structures slowly but surely gain force. All that provoked open and hidden protest of the ruling "class". Threat of signing on August 22, 1991 a new Union agreement that had been worked out in the process of the USSR republics representatives in Novo-Ogaryevo (Moscow suburbs) was the last drop. According to that agreement the republics-members of the new Soviet Union, would enjoy broader and better rights; the centre was to be converted from ruling into barely coordination one. In reality only defence, finance, internal affairs and partially tax and social policy questions would remain in the hands of the new Union administration. A number of republics refused to sign even that, liberal enough agreement (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Moldavia, Georgia and Armenia)

In order to burke signing the agreement and save their power credentials, part of the top-level party and state administration memebers tried to take the power in their hands. On August 19, 1991 a State of Emergency was announced. Troops and tanks were brought into the streets of Moscow and a number of big cities. All the central papers aside from the Pravda, the Izvestiya, the Trud and some others, were prohibited; all the television programmes quit their work, to the exclusion of the 1-st channel, and almost all the radio stations. Functioning of all the parties , except the CPSU, were arrested.

At the head of the overturn there stood the so-called "Federal Committee on the State of Emergency", namely:

1. Yanayev, the USSR president care-taker, a CPSU Central Committee member.
2. Baklanov, the USSR Defence Soviet Chairman First deputy.
3. Kruchkov, the USSR KGB Chairman .
4. Pavlov, the USSR Prime-minister.
5. Pugo, the USSR Minister for internal affairs.
6. Starodubtsev, the USSR Peasant's Union Chairman.
7. Yazov, the USSR Minister for Defence.
8. Tizyakov, the President of Federal Production Units Association .

The Federal Committee on the State of Emergency saw the main task as follows: to restore the former, before-1985 situation in the USSR, that is to eliminate many-party system, commercial structures, in destroying rudiments of democracy.

The USSR's main political adversary was the Russian Federation administration. The brunt was directed against it. Troops were concentrated round the Russia Federation Supreme Soviet Building (the Beliy House), which were to capture the building, to disperse the Parliament and to arrest the most active participants. But the overturn collapsed. The country's population generally refused to support the Committee, and the Army didn't want to use force against their fellow citizens. Already on August, 20 barricades grew around the White House on which there stood thousands, and a part of the troops' soldiers and officers went over to the defensive side.

Overseas the event was accepted very negatively. Multiple voices to quit aid for the USSR were heard.

The overturn was planned and prepared very badly. Already on August, 22 it suffered a defeat, and the members of the Committee were arrested. Three Beliy House defenders perished in the August 19-21 events.

Right after the Putch defeat practically in all big cities of the country mass demonstrations against CPSU took place, which was a convenient excuse for arresting activities of the CPSU all over the country. At the direction of Boris Eltsin, the President of the Russia Federation, buildings of CPSU Central Committee, regional and local committees, the party archives were all locked and sealed. Since August 23, 1991 the USSR CPSU did not exist any longer as a reining state structure.

Simultaneously with quitting the CPSU activity, again at the direction of the President Eltsin a number of newspapers were temporarily closed. In September all the Union republics, which hadn't declared about their independence and sovereignty, made the declarations.

After the August, 1991 events the importance of the Supreme Soviet and People's Deputies Congresses came to naught. The regular congress of USSR People's Deputies (August-September, 1991) was the last one. It declared about its dissolution. In September-November, 1991 weak attempts were undertaken to block final economic and political collapse of the already "former" Soviet Union. The work went in two directions: setting up economic union and formation of new political relations.

In September Inter-republican Union on Economy was set up, headed by I. Silayev. The biggest success of this foundation was preparation of economic agreement, which was signed by nine republics: Russian Federation, the Ukraine, Belorussia, Azerbaidgan, Turkmenia, Uzbekistan, Tadgikistan, Kirgiziya, Kazakhstan. The Agreement was a real step towards preventing collapse of the sole economic body.

Disagreements concerning political union were of much more serious sort. Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, the Ukraine, Moldavia, Georgia and Armenia refused even from discussions. The first preliminary talks were held only in the second part of November, presidents of the seven republics participated. As a result the presidents came to a conclusion, that it was necessary to establish a new state, on confederative base.

After declaration of independence relations between republics grew more tense, basically because of border questions. A number of nations of the Northern Caucuses, comprising Russian Federation, declared their independence and sovereignty and put forward political and territory demands to Russia Federation, as well as to their neighbouring states. More brightly this happened when Chechnya Republic put forward their claims. Events in Chechnya and in a row of other regions of the Northern Caucasus, the war in South Osetia, all this led by the end of 1991 to the situation of a Civil War.

Economic position of Russia and other states of ex-Soviet Union worsened rapidly in Autumn-Winter of 1991. Inflation sky-rocketed, in October-November the rate of inflation was some 25-30% per month, industry and agricultural output lowered. All this, plus issuing new cash led to the well-known situation, when on the shop shelves there were practically no foodstuffs, no clothes, shoes or other industry products. Problems appeared concerning supplying population with essential commodities: bread, milk, potatoes.

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