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‘Let’s save Russia!’ – Thousands gather as thwarted 1991 August coup unfolds in Moscow *ARCHIVE*

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Archive footage filmed on August 19-24, 1991, shows events from the famous Soviet coup d’etat attempt in Moscow – also known as the August coup – which tried to overthrow President Mikhail Gorbachev.

Heavy military armoured vehicles can be seen driving along Tverskaya Street towards the Kremlin and the White House, Russia’s parliament building.

The coup was led by hardline communist leaders – including Vice President Gennady Yanayev – who formed the ‘State Committee on the State Emergency (GKChP)’ to oppose Gorbachev’s programme of reforms and seize power.

Footage also shows thousands of people walking through the city’s streets, past barricades and holding placards reading ‘Let’s save Russia’.

They are seen gathering outside the White House to listen to newly elected President of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic Boris Yeltsin – later president of the Russian Federation – as he denounced the coup.

GKChP members reportedly used KGB agents to hold Gorbachev captive at his holiday home in Crimea, but failed to detain Yeltsin.

The coup attempt lasted just three days, with Gorbachev returned to the office and Yeltsin subsequently becoming the dominant leader.

Footage also features funerals and rallies to honour three civilians who were killed during the coup attempt.

This archive footage is released as part of the ‘100 Key Events in Russia in the 20th and 21st Centuries’, a project with the Russian State Documentary Film and Photo Archive (rgakfd.ru).

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