Yanayev famously appeared at a press conference to announce that he was replacing Gorbachev who, he claimed, \”is undergoing treatment, himself, in our country. He is very tired after these many years and he will need some time to get better.\” But Yanayev could not produce a medical certificate to support his claims and the television cameras chose to concentrate on his hands, which were shaking violently, suggesting he was drunk.
The general conclusion among Russian friends (for I had already started working over there at this point, although wasn\’t there that day) was that the hands were shaking because he was violently hungover, not drunk.
Once they\’d \”toppled\” Gorby, they had a good old sesh on the vodka, leading to the shaking hands at the press conference the next day.
Looking back now, the events of the next few years over there make a great deal more sense if you assume (as was in fact true of Yeltsin and a significant part of his entourage) that at least 50% of those attempting to make decisions at any one time were blind drunk.