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Revolts in Russia: Two other crises survived by the Kremlin

Jun 25, 2023 03:56 AM IST

A look back at the previous biggest threats surviving by the Kremlin since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

After the rebellion launched by the Russian mercenary group Wagner against Moscow, AFP looks back at the previous biggest threats survived by the Kremlin since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Servicemen sit in a tank with a flag of the Wagner Group military company, as they guard an area at the HQ of the Southern Military District in a street in Rostov-on-Don, Russia.(AP)

Read | As Wagner advances, Moscow mayor declares Monday as 'non-working' day

- Failed coup of 1991 -

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In August 1991, four months before the collapse of the Soviet union, president Mikhail Gorbachev survived a failed attempt by Communist hardliners to seize power to prevent the signature of a treaty granting a large degree of autonomy to the 15 republics that made up the USSR.

Gorbachev was on holiday at his dacha in Crimea when he was taken prisoner there by the KGB, the Soviet secret police, on August 19. Troops and tanks were also deployed on the streets of Moscow.

Also read | Writers have grappled with Vladimir Putin for two decades

Over the next three days, tens of thousands of people took to the streets to defend Russian democracy.

The resistance centred on the White House, the parliament building in Moscow, which became a symbol of opposition to the putsch.

Boris Yeltsin, the newly elected president of the Russia republic -- the USSR's largest -- led the fightback, famously addressing crowds atop one of the tanks that surrounded parliament.

Within two days the coup had petered out and Gorbachev returned to Moscow a day after it ended, but the episode undermined his influence and made Yeltsin the dominant leader.

Within a few months, Soviet republics began declaring independence.

(Wagner group mutiny LIVE updates)

- Parliamentary revolt of 1993 -

Two years later, between September 21 and October 4, 1993, Yeltsin found himself at the centre of an even bigger crisis, when hardline Communist and nationalist deputies led a bloody revolt that ended with tanks attacking parliament.

The rebellion erupted after months of political deadlock, after Yeltsin signed a decree to dissolve the Supreme Soviet, as the legislature was called at the time.

It set up a standoff with the Communist-dominated parliament, which voted to remove Yeltsin as leader and give his powers to vice-president Alexander Rutskoy, who joined the opposition.

Parliament supporters barricaded themselves with rebel MPs inside the White House while Yeltsin's opponents demonstrated outside.

The rebels seized the Moscow mayor's offices and took over part of the state television centre.

Yeltsin eventually crushed the rebellion by ordering tanks and troops to fire on the White House on October 4.

Entire floors of the 18-storey building were reduced to rubble and the leaders of the rebellion were jailed.

The number of people killed is officially listed at 148, though the rebels claimed that some 1,000 people died.

In December that year, a new constitution boosting the powers of the president was adopted by referendum.

But Yeltsin's supporters suffered losses in parliamentary elections, and MPs later voted to grant amnesty to the leaders of the uprising.




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