Spy Satellites

Lead: It was mid-August 1960. In a White House ceremony, President Dwight D. Eisenhower displayed a United States flag that been recovered from an environmental satellite orbiting the earth. He wasn’t exactly telling the whole truth.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Actually, the flag had been carried into orbit aboard Discoverer XIII and was returned to earth in an ejected capsule which was then recovered from its splash down point northwest of Hawaii by a Navy taskforce. It was the first time an object had been catapulted into earth orbit and brought back without mishap, but this exercise was far more than patriotic chauvinism. The Discoverer program was a ruse, a clever cover-up for a secret reconnaissance operation known as Corona.

Soviet Coup, 1991 IV

Lead: With the world holding its breath, hard-line Communists led by the KGB, in late summer 1991 arrested Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, and tried to take over the government. A man of courage climbed onto an armored vehicle and stopped them dead.

Intro. A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: As Muscovites headed to work on Monday August 19th, they had to deal with troops and tanks lining the streets. The coup leaders who called themselves the Extraordinary Commission had banned all demonstrations, political parties, and newspapers not associated with their movement, but did not have in custody all their opponents. The President of the Russian Republic, Boris Yeltsin, a former ally of Gorbachev who broke with him because his reforms did not go far enough, after initial hesitation, went to the Russian Parliament Building to oppose the coup. Finally, assured that at least some of the military units in the Moscow region would back him, just after noon he climbed onto an armored vehicle, pronounced the coup illegal and unconstitutional, and called for a general strike and for the return of Gorbachev. By the next morning 150,000 Russians stood outside the Parliament Building and several army units had joined the countercoup. By Tuesday evening it was clear that to succeed the Extraordinary Commission would need to use deadly force and this the leaders hesitated to do. That night, a small scuffle between protesters and a tank produced the only three deaths in their attempt to seize power. On Wednesday the coup collapsed. That night Gorbachev was back in Moscow.

Soviet Coup, 1991 III

Lead: In the late summer of 1991, the KGB attempted to take over the Soviet government. For a time, it appeared it would succeed.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Frustrated with the reforms of President Mikhail Gorbachev which were undermining Communist control of Soviet national life and sensing his weakness in the face of deteriorating economic, social and political conditions, hard-line members of the KGB and the military began to plot to get rid of him. The catalyst for the attempted coup was a series of treaties between the various constituent republics of the Soviet Union. The republics were to have more independence which meant even less power and cohesion for the Soviet Union.

Soviet Coup, 1991 II

Lead: Frustrated as reality and the reforms of Mikhail Gorbachev dismantled their system of control, hard-line Communists led by the KGB attempted to hold back the march of events with a coup d'etat in the summer of 1991.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Since 1985 Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev had pressed the nation away from totalitarianism toward openness and democracy. He had been less successful in reforming the economy. Gorbachev had come to power through the ranks of the Communist Party and was reluctant to jettison the main outlines of the old regime. He was a temporizer who rejected the command economy and the Stalinism that was required to keep it operating but as it crumbled, he was unable or unwilling to create a free market to take its place.

Soviet Coup, 1991 I

Lead: In late summer 1991, conservative elements of the KGB and Communist Party tried to revive the collapsing Soviet system. For a breathless moment it looked as if they would succeed.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: For a dozen years prior to 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev was the golden boy of Soviet politics. After law school at Moscow State University, in 1955 he returned to his native region of Stavropol near the Caspian Sea in southwestern Russia. He held a number of posts in the Communist Party organization and was named a member of the Central Committee of the national Party in 1971. Under the guidance of his patron, the party's chief ideologue, Mikhail Suslov, Gorbachev moved quickly up the ranks and by 1980 was a full member of the Politburo. When Konstantin Chernenko died in 1985, Gorbachev was his logical successor as General Secretary of the Soviet Party.

The U-2 Incident II

Lead: On the morning of May 1, 1959, Francis Gary Powers piloting a U-2 spy plane was shot down by elements of the Soviet Union's Air Defense Force.

Intro.: "A Moment in Time" with Dan Roberts.

Content: The fallout from the incident went far beyond the fate of Francis Gary Powers. He was tried, convicted and then exchanged for Soviet spy Rudolf Able in 1962. Khrushchev went to the Paris summit conference on the 15th of May and disrupted it completely, using the U-2 incident as an excuse.

In fact from the very beginning, the Administration had known about the flights and the President had authorized them. The CIA had assured the Administration that no one could survive an attack by a surface to air missile, but had then provided a parachute for the pilot. 

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The U-2 Incident I

Lead: The capture of Francis Gary Powers set back U.S.-Soviet Relations for a dozen years.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: On the morning of May 1, 1959, Francis Gary Powers, an employee of the Central Intelligence Agency climbed into his reconnaissance aircraft and prepared to take off. His aircraft was the U-2, was black and cigar-shaped. Its wings were very long and designed to enable the plane to fly high in rarified atmosphere above 50,000 feet. On the ground the wings had to be supported or the plane would tip over. As the ungainly but somehow elegant U-2 took off into the morning sky over Turkey, neither Powers or his handlers would know that this flight would result in a international incident that would begin the slide of a Russian leader from power, further the chance of change of American administrations and bring a dozen years of icy relationship between the Soviet Union and the United States.

 

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The Last Days of Citizen Romanov II

Lead: In just minutes it was over, the Romanovs were dead.

Intro.: "A Moment in Time" with Dan Roberts.

Content: On July 16, 1918, Nicholas Romanov the last of the Russian Emperors and his family were murdered by members of the Bolshevik secret police. Here's what happened. At four in the afternoon, the family went for their usual stroll in the garden. At 10:30 they went to bed. About midnight Yurovsky, the chief of the secret police detail awakened them and told them to dress quickly and come downstairs. He explained that an army opposed to the Bolsheviks was getting close to their prison in Ekaterinburg and the local Soviet had decided that they should be moved. The former tsar came down the steps carrying his son, the boy’s arms tightly wrapped around his father's neck. The rest followed. Young Anastasia held Jimmy, their small spaniel. Down they went to a small basement room, 16 x 18 feet. They were asked to wait, chairs were brought in and the tsar and his wife sat down.  

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