Soviet Coup Attempt

Post-Cold War Europe

Europe 1991.0819

Soviet Coup Attempt

Europe after the Cold War (19 August 1991)

Historical Map of Europe & the Mediterranean

By now the forces unleashed by Gorbachev were beginning to test the structural integrity of the Soviet Union itself. In August 1991, Communist hardliners decided things had gone too far and launched a coup to overthrow Gorbachev and roll back his reforms. But it was too late. The coup lacked popular Russian support and instead Soviet disintegration accelerated.

Main Events

Brioni Agreement

Croatia, Slovenia, and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia sign the Brioni Agreement under the political sponsorship of the European Community on the Brijuni Islands, Croatia. Slovenia and Croatia accept a three month moratorium on their declarations of independence; in return, Yugoslavia agrees to withdraw from Slovenia.

Operation Stinger

After almost a year of low level conflict, the Yugoslav government backed Serbian Autonomous Oblast Krajina mounts an offensive to capture positions held by the Croatian police in the region of Banovina, Croatia. When the Croatians begin to counterattack, the Yugoslav People's Army intervenes, leading to full-scale war.

Gorbachev's house arrrest

President Mikhail Gorbachev of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is met by representatives of the Gang of Eight while on holiday in his dacha in Foros, Crimea. After refusing their demands to either declare a state of emergency or resign in favor of Gennady Yanayev, the conspirators order the KGB to confine him to his dacha and shut down his communication lines.

Soviet Coup Attempt

Having placed President Mikhail Gorbachev of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics under house arrest, the eight high-level Soviet officials known as the Gang of Eight declare a state of emergency across the Soviet Union and announce that they have formed the State Committee on the State of Emergency (GKChP) to manage the country and restore Soviet dignity. The GKChP send the Soviet Army into Moscow, Leningrad, the Baltic states, and Moldova but fail to capture Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who holds out in the White House, Moscow. After a couple of days of mounting popular opposition, the Army chooses to withdraw rather than fire on civilians and the coup attempt collapses.

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