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Russians Struggle To Recall Who Was Doing What During August 1991 Coup

Moscow, 18 August. The events of August 1991 are slowly starting to fade from the memories of Russians - now, most people (68 to 72 per cent) no longer remember the people involved in those events, a survey has shown.

Respondents most often name (last USSR marshal and member of the GKChP, the State Committee of the State of Emergency comprising state officials who attempted the August 1991 coup, Dmitriy) Yazov (8 per cent), (former USSR vice-president and GKChP member, Gennadiy) Yanayev (5 per cent), (former USSR interior minister and GKChP member, Boris) Pugo, (former USSR KGB chairman and GKChP member, Vladimir) Kryuchkov, (GKChP opponent Maj-Gen Aleksandr) Rutskoy (4 per cent each) and so on among the organizers of the GKChP. (The former Russian president and GKChP opponent, Boris) Yeltsin (26 per cent) and (former USSR president, whom the GKChP sought to overthrow, Mikhail) Gorbachev (7 per cent) are named as opponents of the coup, sociologists from VTsIOM (the All-Russia Public Opinion Research Centre), who carried out the research ahead of the 20th anniversary of the coup, told the Interfax news agency on Thursday (18 August).

According to their data, even those Russians who still remember the names of the people involved in those events, struggle to recall which side they were on. The most conflicting assessment is thus given to the actions of Yeltsin, Gorbachev, Rutskoy and (former acting chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and opponent of the GKChP, Ruslan) Khasbulatov, who were listed as both, coup initiators and coup opponents, the VTsIOM poll has shown. Compared to 1994, twice as many people are unable to evaluate the actions of the GKChP (13 per cent versus 26 per cent).

Meanwhile, a relative majority believes that this was merely an episode of a power struggle in the country's topmost leadership (41 per cent). Every fourth person polled agrees with the statement that this was a tragic event that had disastrous consequences for the countries (as received) (25 per cent). Every tenth person polled (9 per cent) calls the 20-year-old events a triumph of the democratic revolution that put an end to the reign of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

As a rule, young people aged 18 to 24 struggle to give an evaluation of this historical episode (55 per cent versus 13 to 15 per cent of respondents older than 45). Respondents of a more mature age are most inclined to call this a mere episode of a high-up power struggle in the country's leadership (43-46 per cent of Russians older than 35).


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