Helped lead Soviet coup at­tempt

Los Angeles Times - - Obituaries - Gen­nady Yanayev

Gen­nady Yanayev, 73, a leader of the abortive 1991 Soviet coup who briefly de­clared him­self pres­i­dent, re­plac­ing Mikhail Gor­bachev, died Fri­day in Moscow af­ter an un­spec­i­fied lengthy ill­ness, Rus­sia’s Com­mu­nist Party an­nounced.

In one of the in­deli­ble im­ages of the re­bel­lion that has­tened the col­lapse of the Soviet Union, Yanayev’s hands shook vis­i­bly as he an­nounced that he was tak­ing over as pres­i­dent. Yanayev was later quoted by a news­pa­per as say­ing he was drunk when he signed the de­cree el­e­vat­ing him­self from the vice pres­i­dency.

Yanayev was one of 12 mem­bers of the so-called State Emer­gency Com­mit­tee that an­nounced Gor­bachev was be­ing re­placed on Aug. 19, 1991. Gor­bachev was on a short hol­i­day in the Crimea at the time.

Tank di­vi­sions rolled into Moscow to en­force the power grab but crowds of civil­ians, em­bold­ened by the loos­en­ing of stric­tures un­der Gor­bachev’s per­e­stroika poli­cies, turned out to defy them and erected bar­ri­cades around the par­lia­ment build­ing.

The coup col­lapsed in just two days, but it fa­tally weak­ened the al­ready-un­rav­el­ing Soviet Union, which was dis­solved four months later.

Yanayev and his fel­low plot­ters were ar­rested and jailed af­ter the coup col­lapsed, but he and the oth­ers were re­leased in 1993 and re­ceived amnesty a year later.

Af­ter his re­lease, he taught his­tory at a Rus­sian tourism academy and was a con­sul­tant to the state com­mit­tee on in­valids and vet­er­ans of govern­ment ser­vice.


Vi­taly Ar­mand

Mikhail Gor­bachev, right, was briefly over­thrown in a 1991 coup at­tempt by Vice Pres­i­dent Gen­nady

Yanayev, left, and oth­ers.

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