MacNEIL: The stunning overthrow of Mikhail Gorbachev by Communist hardliners dominates
the news this Monday. Gorbachev was reported under house arrest as Soviet tanks
took up positions throughout Moscow. Russian leader Boris Yeltsin called for a
nationwide strike to protest the ouster. President Bush said the U.S. would not
recognize the new regime and called for Gorbachev's return to power. We'll have
the details in a moment. Judy Woodruff's in Washington tonight. Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We spend the entire NewsHour tonight on the developments in the
Soviet Union. We'll have reports from Moscow and reaction around the world. Then
four Soviet analysts, including two former KGB agents, will join us to assess
what's happened. And we'll get the U.S. view of it all from three American policy
ROBERT MacNEIL: Mikhail Gorbachev was removed from power
today in a pre-dawn coup by Communist hardliners backed by troops and tanks. The
man who turned the Soviet Union from cold war towards free institutions was pushed
out by a committee of eight led by his own vice president, Gennady Yanayev. Yanayev
said Gorbachev was ill, but there were reports he was under house arrest at his
vacation home in the Crimea. The new leaders immediately declared a state of emergency,
banned demonstrations, and asserted control over the media. But Boris Yeltsin,
President of the Russian Federation, declared the coup illegal and called for
a general strike in defiance. In return, the new regime warned of the danger of
armed conflict. We have a report from Moscow by Independent Television News Correspondent
MOORE: There were scenes of desperation in Moscow this afternoon, scenes of anger,
frustration. The Red Army tanks had rolled into the heart of the city and not
even heroic gestures could stop them. Workers and shoppers quickly surrounded
the security forces -- pleading with them, appealing for the sake of the Russian
motherland for them to go home. Some even tried grappling with the tank crews.
But it was an act of futility, an act of people bewildered, not violent. The tanks
had come not to the Kremlin, but to the seat of the Russian parliament a mile
away. There was a reason for this, for inside the building was one man who has
the popular appeal that might yet reverse this right wing coup de ta.
the Baltics to the Soviet Far East, life is now paralyzed. There are growing fears
that a massive purge against the reformers may soon begin. No one knows whether
they have time to regroup and what will happen if they do. A senior general gave
the protesters some hope this afternoon, raising the specter that the army might
refuse to disburse the crowds. "Don't assume that everyone in uniform will
obey orders," He said. "The army will never fight against its own people.
But tonight the tension is still rising with an announcement that all but nine
newspapers will be banned, that Moscow is under a state of emergency.
TV gave the news, reading a statement that was cataclysmic in tone. "We're
addressing you at a critical hour," the announcer said. "There is mortal
danger for our motherland. The country has become ungovernable." The timing
was no coincidence. Tomorrow the Kremlin was due to sign an historic union treaty
that would have redistributed much of Gorbachev's power to the individual republics.
It was too much for the hardliners to bear.
man who has taken over is Vice President Gennady Yanayev, whose reputation as
a hard-liner is matched only by his image as a gray man who would serve loyally.
But that was Gorbachev's error, for many of the men he promoted have now turned
round and destroyed his frail program. Dimitri Yasov, the defense minister, the
KGB boss, Vladimir Krichkov, even his own prime minister, Valentin Pavlov, all
have deserted Gorbachev when he needed them most.
MacNEIL: Early in the day, Russian President Republic -- Republic President Boris
Yeltsin called on the Soviet people to challenge the coup leaders. The onetime
Gorbachev rival made the appeal on top of a tank near the Russian parliament building.
Later he told a crowd of about 5,000 people the reactionaries who staged the coup
would not succeed. The crowd chanted, "Bring them to justice." A column
of 10 tanks reportedly loyal to Yeltsin took up positions near the Russian parliament
and barricades around the building were reinforced. Yeltsin also ordered the responsibilities
of the KGB and Soviet defense forces in the Russian Republic be turned over to
forces loyal to him. It was not clear how he intended to enforce that decree.
Also today Soviet naval and land forces moved to take control of the three breakaway
Baltic republics. Government officials said they were threatened with arrest if
they resisted. Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: President Bush issued a statement
tonight condemning what he called "an unconstitutional resort to force."
He said, "This misguided and illegitimate effort bypasses both Soviet law
and the will of the Soviet people." He called for Gorbachev to be restored
to power and said the U.S. will not recognize the new regime. The President interrupted
his vacation to deal with the crisis. He returned to the White House this afternoon
for meetings with top advisers, including the man he appointed to be ambassador
to the Soviet Union, Bob Strauss. Strauss will be sworn into that job tomorrow
morning. Before leaving Kennebunkport, Maine, this morning, Mr. Bush spoke to
BUSH: It seems clearer all the time that contrary to official statements out of
Moscow, that this move was extra- constitutional, outside of the constitutional
provisions for governmental change. Clearly, it's a disturbing development. There's
no question about that. And it could have serious consequences for the Soviet
society and in Soviet relations with other countries, including the United States.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The President said it was in the U.S. interest to go
ahead with the recently signed Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, but he said the
U.S. and other countries will suspend economic aid to the Soviet Union because
of the coup. National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft traveled with mr. Bush
on the trip from Maine to Washington. Aboard Air Force One reporters asked Scowcroft
if the U.S. was considering other options to show its disapproval, including military
BRENT SCOWCROFT, National Security Adviser: I think you've got
to remember this is an internal development in the Soviet Union and it is not
something that we are directly engaged in, other than as we react either, you
know, good government, bad government, and so on, but it's not up to the United
States. The Soviet Union is going to have to work it out for itself.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Both Sec. of State James Baker and Defense Sec. Dick Cheney are
cutting short their vacations to return to Washington late tonight. They are not
expected to meet with President Bush until tomorrow. The Soviet ambassador to
the United States went to the State Department at mid-day. He reiterated to Deputy
Sec. of State Lawrence Eagleburger the new government's pledge to continue reforms
and good relations with the West. There was swift and stunned reaction around
the world to the Soviet news. UN Sec. General Javier Perez DeCuellar said he hoped
the coup would not lead to violence or derail democracy in Eastern Europe. We
get more reaction in this report narrated by Louise Bates of Worldwide Television
BATES: At the Soviet embassy in Bonn security was increased for fear of protest
after the overthrow of the popular Soviet President, but there was no real trouble,
just a small and peaceful gesture which illustrated the feelings many Germans
have toward Gorbachev. The real protesting was left to the world leaders sharing
sympathy for the deposed President. Many saw German Chancellor Helmut Kohl as
the closest Western leader to Gorbachev. He cut short his summer holiday to warn
the new Soviet leadership it could lose aid if it halts the process of reform.
He issued a five point list of demands, one of which stated that Gorbachev should
not be harmed. Britain joined the international voice of condemnation. British
Prime Minister John Major had been early consulting with other leaders.
MAJOR, Prime Minister, Britain: There seems little doubt that President Gorbachev
has been removed from power by an unconstitutional seizure of power. There are
constitutional ways of removing the President to the Soviet Union. They have not
MS. BATES: His predecessor, who broke the ice with Gorbachev,
wants a freeze on Western defense cuts.
MARGARET THATCHER, Former Prime
Minister, Britain: Those cuts which were going to be implemented should not be
implemented now. We must pause to see what happens.
MS. BATES: Eastern
Europeans like Czechoslav President Vaclav Havel pledged that there was no turning
back from their own freedom, despite the problems in Moscow. President Havel said
the process of radical political and economic reform could not be reversed, but
East European nations are still tied to the Soviet economy. All of Czechoslovakia's
fuel, for example, comes from the Soviet Union. Like many Western leaders, French
President Francois Mitterrand voiced disapproval of the coup after lengthy talks.
He has a warm relationship with Gorbachev. The two men signed a wide ranging Franco-Soviet
friendship treaty. Meanwhile, in Brussels, there was an emergency session of the
North Atlantic Treaty Organization. A meeting of foreign ministers of member states
has been called for later in the week.
WOODRUFF: The government of Iraq was one of the few to welcome today's dramatic
change in the Soviet Union. A spokesman said under Gorbachev the Soviet Union
followed a policy that negatively affected the international situation and had
negative consequences in third world countries, especially in Iraq. The spokesman
expressed hope that the new regime would redress what he called "the international
ROBERT MacNEIL: World financial markets were thrown
into turmoil by the news from the Soviet Union. The dollar shot up against foreign
currencies and gold surged more than $2 an ounce. Stocks fell sharply around the
world. The London Exchange closed down more than 4 percent. In Tokyo, the Nikkei
Average fell nearly 6 percent, its third worst day ever. On the New York Stock
Exchange, the Dow Industrial Average plummeted more than a hundred points in the
first hour of trading. It later recovered some of that loss, closing down nearly
70 points on the day.
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