Absolutely spot on

A piece in The Guardian, of all newspapers, which just nails the point under discussion.

In August 1991, when Communist party hardliners tried to wrest back power, fear was the magic component they lacked. Some people got scared, to be sure – but enough did not. Radio journalists continued reporting on the coup and finding ways to broadcast even when their signal was repeatedly cut off and their offices were invaded by special forces. Print journalists from several newspapers that had been shut down got together to put out a joint publication they called the Common Newspaper. And ordinary people, including college students, professionals, and former army military men, flooded into the streets to protect the Moscow white house where Boris Yeltsin sat, personifying democracy.

Bernard Levin, the late great Bernard Levin, identified the exact moment when the whole edifice came tumbling down.

That crowd, around Boris, the hardliners had someone shout over the loudspeakers that the crowd was ordered to disperse. Or terrible things, they knew not what but they would be the terror of the Earth, would be done by the KGB.

And the crowd laughed.

Exeunt USSR.

7 comments on “Absolutely spot on

  1. Levin had, years before, predicted the downfall of the USSR and had even suggested a date that proved pretty accurate. Does anyone know of a link for that?

  2. Weird reading of events.No mention that Yeltsin took over with Army support and ,when people started laughing at him ,he suspended the constitution, and got the Army to shell the Moscow White House killing hundreds of parliamentarians who had refused, quite rightly, to disperse.He then got on with privatising the economy by giving the bosses of the big organisations ownership rather than control.
    The West having won the Cold War subsequently got on with destroyng capitalism internally and invading or subverting countries that the Commies always said they would.
    Tricky business History;such a pity you cannot
    apply a simple algebraic formula.

    Tim adds: You’re getting confused there. 1991 was Yeltsin being brave and noble defending the White House. 1993 was Yeltson shelling it.

    And no, hundreds of parliamentarians were not killed. BTW, I was actually there at the time…..

  3. ‘hundreds of parliamentarians were not killed’

    Hundreds of armed militiamen were. Spot the difference, Mr Reed.

    ‘Exeunt USSR’.

    And most Guardianistas have been in mourning ever since.

  4. I too was tying to make an obvious contrast between 1991 and 1993: in the second instance Boris tried to get the people who were laughing at him to disperse, and when they did n’t, fired field guns at them.

  5. ‘in the second instance Boris tried to get the people who were laughing at him to disperse, and when they did n’t, fired field guns at them’.

    Rutskoi, Khasbulatov et al were not ‘laughing’ at Yeltsin, they were trying to overthrow him with an armed insurrection.

    You’re not very bright, are you?

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