Soviet citizens woke up for a dramatic announcement on August 19, 1991. Early in the morning a statement was broadcast on state radio saying that Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was unable to perform his presidential duty for health reasons and the State Committee on the State of Emergency led by Gennady Yanayev, Vice President of the Soviet Union, would take control. The committee declared a state of emergency that day and the streets of Moscow were invaded with tanks. Conspirators launched their mission to impede the dissolution of the Soviet Union, but in the end the amateurishly executed coup became the final nail in the coffin of the empire.
The following day, (August 19) the Russian parliament, under the lead of Boris Yeltsin, President of the Russian Federation, declared the coup unconstitutional. During the day the galvanized Yeltsin even climbed onto a tank, asking the soldiers not to turn against their own people. The determined response proved effective as anti-coup protest broke out in big cities throughout the Soviet Union. The ill-prepared plot failed within two days; all members of the ”Gang of Eight” were arrested except Interior Minister Boris Pugo who committed suicide.
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