Communists still support 1991 coup against Gorbachev

The Russian Communist Party will hold events called “20 years without the USSR” to commemorate the failed coup to seize power from Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991.

­The leadership of the Communist Party (CPRF) has decided to hold several events across the country on August 18-26 to mark the 20th anniversary of the August 1991 coup led by hardliners in the Soviet leadership. Today’s Communist Party says it was an attempt to save the Soviet Union, although many believe the coup organizers achieved quite the opposite result after they attempted to isolate then-President of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev on August 18, 1991.  

Twenty years to the day, the first event will be held in the city of Donetsk, Ukraine. The CPRF leader Gennady Zyuganov will take part in a rally as well as the proceeding concert.  Heads of the Communist parties of the former Soviet republics, now independent states, will also be in attendance, a deputy of the CPRF chairman, Vladimir Kashin, told Interfax on Monday.

A similar rally should take place on Moscow’s central Pushkinskaya Square on August 20. On August 19 – the day in history when the Soviet people had been told about Gorbachev’s removal from power – young Communist activists will place red tents on the streets of Moscow to hold the so-called people’s referendum, which is also taking place under the initiative of the CPRF.

In Siberia, the Communists will hold “a gathering of peoples” to analyze what the country “has missed out on as a result of the break-up of the USSR.”  

Twenty years ago, several members of the Soviet leadership, including the defense minister and the KGB chief, tried to disrupt the signing of a new union treaty between the country’s constituent republics. They isolated then-President Mikhail Gorbachev in his residence on Crimea and created the State Emergency Committee (GKChP). The coup failed after three days of resistance organized by the leadership of the main republic – Russia, headed by then-President Boris Yeltsin.

On August 23, the Communist Party was banned from operating on Russian territory. The Russian Federation took over the institutions of the union state, and the USSR disintegrated in December 1991.  

The current task of the CPRF is to draw public attention to “the criminal activity of the destroyers of the USSR,” the party’s leader Gennady Zyuganov said in a letter sent to the heads of regional branches on Monday. People should be reminded of the negative consequences of the disintegration, the colossal opportunities that have been missed and the need “to restore a renewed union of peoples.”   

A recent nation-wide poll by the Public Opinion Fund showed that 20% of respondents supported Yeltsin 20 years ago, 11% were on the side of the coup organizers, and 27% did not take sides. Of those polled, 17% believe that it would have been better for Russia if the coup leaders had succeeded, while 17% believe it would have been worse.

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