Northern Eurasia 1991: Soviet Coup Attempt
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.
9 Apr 1991 Independence of Georgia▲
On 31 March 1991 the Republic of Georgia held a referendum on independence, with 98.9% of voters approving the restoration of Georgia’s independence as proclaimed in May 1918, prior to Soviet annexation. The results were announced in early April and on the 9th—the second anniversary of the 1989 Soviet crackdown on Georgian protests in Tbilisi—the Georgian Supreme Council unanimously passed the declaration of independence, seceding from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
16 May 1991 1991 Sino-Soviet Border Agreement▲
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics signs a treaty with the People’s Republic of China to initiate demarcation work to resolve most of the border disputes between the two states. The demarcation will ultimately be completed by the 1997 deadline, resolving almost all the territorial disputes between the Russian Federation (which would soon replace the USSR) and China.
25 Jun 1991 Independence of Slovenia and Croatia▲
On 23 December 1990 the Republic of Slovenia held an independence referendum, with 88.5% of all electors (94.8% of those participating) voting for independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Republic of Croatia followed suit with a referendum in May 1991, in which 93.24% voted for independence. In the wake of these referendums, both Slovenia and Croatia declared independence on 25 June, formally seceding from Yugoslavia.
18 Aug 1991 Gorbachev’s house arrrest▲
President Mikhail Gorbachev of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was 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 ordered the KGB to confine him to his dacha and shut down his communication lines.
19–21 Aug 1991 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 declared a state of emergency across the Soviet Union and announced that they had formed the State Committee on the State of Emergency (GKChP) to manage the country and restore Soviet dignity. The GKChP sent the Soviet Army into Moscow, Leningrad, the Baltic states, and Moldova but failed to capture Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who held out in the White House, Moscow. After a couple of days of mounting popular opposition, the Army chose to withdraw rather than fire on civilians and the coup attempt collapsed.