Political map of Russia & the former Soviet Union 19 August 1991 (Soviet Coup Attempt): By now the forces unleashed by Gorbachev (Mikhail 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 (1991 Soviet coup d'etat attempt) to overthrow Gorbachev and roll back his reforms. But it was too late. The coup lacked popular Russian support and instead Soviet disintegration (Dissolution of the Soviet Union) accelerated.