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.

Winston Churchill’s Iron Curtain Speech II (Start of the Cold War)

Lead: In March, 1945 Winston Churchill gave his famous "Iron-Curtain" Speech in Fulton, Missouri. It was not given as an idle gesture.

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

Content: In the days after World War II, the United States began to explore the path of accommodation with the Soviet Union. Under the new President, Harry Truman, and Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, America began to draw away from the British, who were increasingly isolated and under Soviet pressure in the Balkans, Iran and the Mediterranean. Truman was following the course laid out by his predecessor, Franklin Roosevelt, but as 1945 drew to a close, important elements of public opinion began to criticize this policy. Secretary of Defense James Forestall and other military leaders were fearful of Soviet power and expansion and urged the President to a more militant approach to the Russians. This was echoed by certain key Republicans such as Senator Arthur Vandenberg and influential shapers of opinion like Henry R. Luce, publisher of Time Magazine, and the editors of the New York Times.

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Winston Churchill’s Iron Curtain Speech I (Start of the Cold War)

Lead: On March 5, 1946 at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, Winston Churchill delivered one of the most important speeches in post-World War II history. It signaled the beginning of the Cold War.

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

Content: The alliance of necessity between the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union began to show signs of decay with the defeat of Germany in April, 1945. The traditional American isolationism and reluctance to be drawn into permanent foreign entangling alliances was, in the absence of an immediate perceived enemy threat, rearing its head. Americans were tired of war and many were not as fearful of growing Soviet power as were their British cousins. This tended to counter the pressure of those advisors surrounding the new and inexperienced President Truman who would have the United States take vigorous leadership in international affairs. Some close to the President actually advocated closer Soviet/American ties. All of this meant the British felt themselves increasingly out in the cold and under pressure from the Soviets in many places such Iran, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean.

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Anna Larina Bukharin

Lead: As a teenager Anna Larina fell deeply in love with Nicholai Ivanovich Bukharin, a hero of the Russian Revolution, a man twenty-six years her elder. She shared his fate at the hands of Joseph Stalin.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: As a girl, Larina met most of the old Bolsheviks. Her father, Yuri was one of the inner circle and often in the 1920s Lenin or Stalin would dine in their apartment in the Metropole Hotel in Moscow. Bukharin lived just upstairs and soon her crush on him became evident to all around them. Once she wrote a love letter and slipped up the stairs to put it under his door. On the way she nearly ran into Stalin who was headed that way. She gave him the note to deliver. The irony of one of the twentieth century's great butchers passing romantic notes for a love-sick teenager is inescapable.


US Olympic Basketball Team Loses to Soviets III

Lead: In September 1972 the United States lost the basketball final to the Soviets in one of the most disputed games in the modern Olympiad.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: In the closing minutes of the game the United States was ahead because of a shot made by Doug Collins who then tackled probably on purpose by a Soviet player. During the free throws, apparently, the Soviet coach had tried to call a time-out, but that was against the rules. Despite this, the refs, in of the sport’s most controversial calls, gave the Soviets the time out and a second chance. They were unable to score even with the added time. The American contingent was apoplectic with joyful celebration.

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