Helped lead Soviet coup attempt
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.
SOVIET PRESIDENTSVitaly Armand
Mikhail Gorbachev, right, was briefly overthrown in a 1991 coup attempt by Vice President Gennady
Yanayev, left, and others.