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1991 coup martyrs forgotten, say families

Back then, they were national heroes; symbols of resistance in the face of tyranny. Dmitry Komar, Ilya Krichevsky and Vladimir Usov died 20 years ago defending the White House - the Russian parliament - against troops sent by the GK ChP, communist hardliners who had launched a putsch in an attempt to derail Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms.

world Updated: Aug 18, 2011 00:26 IST

Back then, they were national heroes; symbols of resistance in the face of tyranny. Dmitry Komar, Ilya Krichevsky and Vladimir Usov died 20 years ago defending the White House - the Russian parliament - against troops sent by the GK ChP, communist hardliners who had launched a putsch in an attempt to derail Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms.

Thousands converged on their funeral on August 24, 1991, a few days after the coup failed, hastening the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Yet two decades on, as Russia marks the anniversary of the standoff, Komar, Krichevsky and Usov are all but forgotten. "My world was destroyed when Dmitry died," said Komar's mother, Lyubov, 63. "The Kremlin sent a wreath on the first few anniversaries. Then there was nothing."

A US foundation still sponsors exchange students from Russia in memory of Komar, Krichevsky and Usov.