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Viktor Alksnis: the great turmoil of the 90s

Виктор Алкснис: великая смута 90-х

 

“Ribbon.ru” continues a series of interviews about the recent past of our country. Following the restructuring, we recall the key events and phenomena of the 90’s- the era of Boris Yeltsin. USSR people’s Deputy, member of the Supreme Council of Latvia, the leader of Deputy group “the Union” Victor Alksnis has told about the meanness of Gorbachev, Yeltsin’s decisiveness and how he almost died in 1993.

 

“Ribbon.ru”: Member of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee, first Secretary of the Communist party of Latvia, Rubiks Alfreds at a press conference on August 19, 1991 stated that it welcomes the state emergency Committee “not only with joy, but with pride” and that “it was the dream of our Communist party”. Do you remember that day? What happened in Riga?

V. ALKSNIS: About that today nobody speaks, but Latvia was the only Federal Republic where the state emergency Committee won. The message about the establishment of the Committee, delivered in the morning of 19 August 1991, caused the leadership of shock and awe. They seriously believe that now the emergency Committee will begin to restore order in the country, and in this situation do not pay. The then commander of the Baltic military region Fyodor Kuzmin later he told me how on the morning of August 19, he called the Chairman of the Supreme Council of Latvia, former Secretary of the Communist party of Latvia on ideology, Anatoly Gorbunov and started to convince that he was and is a Communist, willing to strictly comply with the Constitution of the USSR and decrees of the Committee. After Gorbunov started calling other leaders of the “independent” Republic.

August 19-21, Riga OMON (only about two hundred fighters) took control of almost all important objects, including the Council of Ministers of Latvia. The most remarkable thing that in these days nobody took to the streets of Riga and other cities of the country to protest against the emergency Committee. Supporters of secession from the USSR sat at home and anxiously waited for, as for them this would all turn out.

August 21, riot police had planned the capture of the last strategic object Latvia building of the Supreme Council of the Republic. But from Moscow came the news: members of the emergency Committee flew to foros for Gorbachev to give up. The riot police retreated to their base on the outskirts of Riga and took up a perimeter defense, stating that surrender will not. From Moscow came the order to the troops of the Baltic military district and the naval infantry of the Baltic fleet to disarm the rebels. Military units began the fermentation, officers and soldiers refused to disarm their comrades, whom they regarded as heroes.

– There is an opinion that if not for Yeltsin in those days, Latvia was now an Autonomous Republic within Russia.

After the army and Navy refused to obey orders, the situation started to “wobble”, there is the danger of a military mutiny. To prevent this, Boris Yeltsin flies to Riga from a blitz-visit. As a result of negotiations with the leaders of Latvia, an agreement was reached granting Amnesty to all the personnel of the Riga OMON and the relocation to the territory of the Russian Federation in Tyumen. To Riga were sent to the aircraft of the military transport aviation. Riot policemen with families on the bus with weapons and military equipment drove through the city to the airport. On machines were the banners “We shall return!”, but on the sidewalks were hundreds of people, many crying.

Despite the agreements reached Amnesty to fighters of OMON began the hunt. After the first request of Latvia (by order of the Prosecutor General of the RSFSR Stepankova) in October 1991 was issued by the Deputy commander of OMON Sergey Parfyonov, which the Latvian court sentenced to four years in prison. At the same time Stepanovym were issued warrants for the arrest and extradition of Latvian some other fighters, but they managed to leave the base of Riot police in Tyumen a few years and disappeared.

– The head of Department of the Prosecutor General of the USSR Viktor Ilyukhin, who filed against Gorbachev in 1991 case under article “treason”, wrote in his memoirs: “Gorbachev betrayed the Rubiks, betrayed the Riga OMON, prosecutors in Lithuania and Latvia until the end remained loyal to the Union and the rule of law”. Do you agree with this assessment?

– Yes, Gorbachev betrayed the Soviet Union. After all, he was the President of the USSR, the highest official of the state. Given the realities of those days, and also the provisions of the Constitution, he possessed huge powers, but a finger does not hit to perform his presidential duties for the protection of the Basic law of the state. He always walked away from responsibility and tried to shift it to others. He betrayed everyone, including his friends and associates who were in his inner circle, such as former Minister of foreign Affairs of the USSR Eduard Shevardnadze, who was probably his closest friend and companion.

Shevardnadze was not personally formed and implemented a suicidal foreign policy of the USSR in the late 80’s-early

90-ies. He held Gorbachev’s line. However, when the group “Soyuz” and I for one and a half years consistently and methodically retorted Shevardnadze and secured his resignation in December 1990, Gorbachev never spoke in support and protection of his friend. He just passed as had passed others before, and after.

In January 1991 I was a member of the national salvation Committee in Latvia. At the meeting of this organization I personally had to watch as its Chairman, Alfreds Rubiks called on government HF (closed system of government and military telephone communications in the USSR, used a high frequency. – Approx. “The tape.ru”) , and Gorbachev agreed with him. Although I knew perfectly well that the President of the Soviet Union, at first I am very surprised and disgusted when, after certain events in Latvia, agreed with him, he publicly declared that knows nothing about it and learned about them just now.

Gorbachev betrayed the members of the GKCHP, who on the eve of the events of 19 August 1991, visited him in foros for approval of plans for a state of emergency. After all, he said to them, “to Hell with you, go for it! And I’m sick.” Members of the emergency Committee, are satisfied that they are unable to act in critical situations Gorbachev would lead the state of emergency, has received from him consent to its introduction, flew to Moscow. The President at that time had already recorded his statement in which he denied the Committee – just in case.

On the morning of August 23, after the failure of GKCHP Rubix has been blocked by fighters of the Popular front in his study in Riga the building of the Central Committee to arrest him, they did not dare, for fear of Moscow’s reaction. HF communications in the office still worked and he called in the Kremlin Gorbachev, because the Rubix was a member of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee, in fact, celestial. For a few minutes in the tube there was a silence, and then the Secretary gave the Rubiks that the President will not be talking to him and asked them not to call.

– You knew the Minister of the interior, party of the coup Boris Pugo? In his memoirs, writes Gennady Yanayev, Pugo committed suicide, he was shot. What do you think?

In the case of so-called suicide of Boris Karlovich really very much confusing. As far as I knew, it was a good, agreeable man, very soft-hearted. I sometimes wondered how with such a character he was able to occupy such high positions that required very different qualities, especially in terms of stiffness.

It seems to me, to commit suicide and to prevent the death of his wife, his other moral qualities, which Boris Karlovich did not possess. It can be assumed that his tragic death is included in the list of the mysterious deaths of several high-ranking functionaries of the CPSU Central Committee, which completed his life’s path immediately after the failure of GKCHP.

– When was the last time you were in Latvia? How, in your opinion, is there much life has changed in 90 years?

I moved from Latvia in October 1992 and then was not there. Then I was dismissed from the Russian army, where he served as a senior engineer-inspector of the Department of combat training of air staff of the North-Western group of forces (the former Baltic military district). Before the dismissal I was invited to the special Department chief of staff (military intelligence service) and informed that according to their information against me initiated a criminal case under article “treason” of the Criminal code of the Latvian SSR (Latvian Republic its Criminal code at that time was not yet).

Because I at that time still officially was the military personnel of a foreign state, it didn’t touch me. But I was warned that once I get the documents about the dismissal and will become an ordinary citizen, I can be arrested. He recommended me to leave Latvia, as I did.

“Treason” I was charged for my parliamentary and political activity directed against the exit of Latvia from the USSR. What is the situation with the criminal case, I don’t know. Since 1992, I still persona non grata because of continued political activities, according to the Latvian authorities that harm the Republic of Latvia. In Riga lives my 90 year old mother and sister, where my father is buried, in the grave which I was already 23 years old.

What made Latvia for years of independence? She obsluzhivaet eyes, the process of leaving for permanent residence in more prosperous countries are already like an escape. In 1992 in Latvia lived 2 643 000 people, and in 2015-m – 1 973 700. In Riga in 1991 there were more than 915 thousand, and she was preparing to become a city of a million population, and in 2015 there are only 640 thousand.

In recent years, to the West from Latvia leaving about 40 thousand people annually. According to official statistics, over 10 percent of Latvian citizens born in the UK, according to unofficial, this figure is twice more. Today the national debt of Latvia is such that to repay every resident must give not less than 5 thousand euros. In the Latvian SSR in the field of public administration worked for 8 thousand people. In independent Latvia today such officials 60 thousand!

The standard of living is this country still not yet reached the level of the Latvian SSR sample, 1990, where there were about 500 businesses, most of which exported products, including in Western countries. Now most of these companies do not, and Latvia from the industrial Republic, where high-tech industry was the backbone of the economy, has turned into a country living at the expense of external borrowings with debt accumulation (on average one billion dollars per year). Almost the entire economy of the country is under the control of foreign companies, primarily Swedish.

– In 1993 you take an active part in the confrontation between Yeltsin and the House of Soviets. Why on the side of the Soviets? You were in the operational MVD as one of the organizers of mass protests on the streets of Moscow. What is the most memorable?

When on 21 September 1993 Yeltsin issued the notorious decree about dissolution of Congress of people’s deputies of the RSFSR, I had no doubt that this coup attempt that must be countered. That is why on the evening of 21 September, I arrived at the House of Councils and took an active part in subsequent events.

I was a private party, all the days spent in the White house, where came only to sleep on the floor, and on the streets of Moscow. Mainly engaged in agitation and propaganda, organized rallies and demonstrations. On my chest was the badge of the people’s Deputy of the USSR, I was approached dozens of people, I told them about what was happening and called to oppose the coup. Campaigned blocked the House of the Soviets of soldiers and police, explained the situation to them, warned about responsibility for participation in the coup.

The technology was simple. I approached the chain of troops, it seemed: “I USSR people’s Deputy Colonel Viktor Alksnis imantovich. Who is your elder here? Invite him, please.” Approached the officer, again I seemed and asked him to introduce himself, holding a Notepad and pen. Remember that most officers seemed John’s day’s and concealed their actual names. This made a very strong impression on the soldiers, who began to understand that it is unclean.

I started a conversation with the officer in the presence of the soldiers, and, as a rule, the answer was one – “we the people, the military, we were ordered”. Interestingly, any attempts to neutralize me by the authorities is not made, although my work was visible.

On September 29, I was still caught. In the evening at the entrance to “Krasnopresnenskaya” metro station was assigned the protest. Arrived at the station, and there on the platform screaming and yelling: upstairs brutality riot police, pushing people in the subway. I had a megaphone, I urged all to go to the station “Ulitsa 1905 goda” and to assemble there at the monument. Gradually people began to arrive, and I led people to block the street Red Presnya.

We had expected the riot police attacks from the White house, but he appeared the opposite and immediately began to knead people with batons. I could hide in the underground, but proved unnecessary heroism, began to shout in a megaphone: “All depart in the subway!”, and through the crowd rushed toward the police, shouting: “Stop! It’s peaceful people!” Immediately received two strong blow to the head and neck and collapsed on the asphalt.

As later told by witnesses, the police started me lying on the ground unconscious, to beat feet and sticks. Fortunately, I didn’t feel like having police “anesthesia”. Woke up ten minutes later. Lie alone in an empty street (OMON cordoned off the surrounding area) and I hear: “school killed!” Headache and buzzing, the body, anybody to me does not fit. Feel that a face lying in a puddle, tried his hand – stick, I realized that it was blood.

Finally the chain of Riot police moved aside, and ran up to me a few people, took the chain and began to slow the car. It struck me that first, despite my appearance, stopped, the driver helped to put me in the back seat.

In the Sklifosovsky hospital I was examined, x-rayed, left hand in plaster and was offered admission. But a nurse came and told me that I can’t live in the house behind me, the police came. Literally five minutes later I was put into an ambulance and taken to the apartment of my friend the people’s Deputy of the USSR Anatoly Chekhoev. I spent the night with him, and then for security purposes, I moved to another place to lie down. October 2, I just bandaged, took him to the Garden ring to the building of the foreign Ministry, where I spoke at the rally. But I felt bad and in the events of October 3-4 participation is no longer accepted.

– Was any hope of winning? Why did you lose?

– Hope for victory was. Power, especially on 3 October, lying on the ground, and there was no one to pick it up. Alas, none of the leaders of the Supreme Council and appointed them Ministers went beyond the White house, fearing arrest. But I know for certain that if Rutskoi arrived in the General staff, the army immediately moved to the side of the sun.

Employees of the Ministry of security of the Russian Federation (now the FSB) at a General meeting adopted a resolution on the transition to the side of the Supreme Council and waited appointed by the Supreme Council of the Minister of the Russian security Barannikova, but he did not come. Instead, he sent dozens of unarmed people to take the “Ostankino”, that is just for slaughter. But Yeltsin was not afraid in the night of 3 to October 4, to come to the General staff and force to launch an assault on the House of Soviets. He was fully aware of antielitist the moods of the army, but nevertheless went. In the end, his coup was successful.

– In the mid-90s, you worked closely with the Lion Rohling. As far as I know, you are a supporter version that he was killed for political reasons for the preparation of a military coup. Tell us about it.

– Yes, today it is not a secret. Indeed, Lev Yakovlevich based on a huge popularity in the army, was preparing a coup to remove Yeltsin and his camarilla. I plan Rokhlin were the chances of success, but all rested on his figure. As far as I know, Rokhlin was counting on some military units, including the Volgograd case, with whom he fought in Chechnya. Yet it was supported by some suburban commanders of connections and parts.

In those days in Moscow humpback bridge was the famous action of the miners. Rokhlin found sources of financing and expected to bring to Moscow, about 20 thousand officers who had to join the miners and arrange in the center of Moscow riots. They planned to capture government buildings and institutions, arresting Yeltsin’s entourage. In addition, in Moscow planned to enter the military, their main task was to prevent the city of military units remaining loyal to Yeltsin. To do this, the commanders of the Moscow military units were supposed to block the road to Moscow.

Hide the preparation of the military coup failed, and Yeltsin on the eve of the assassination of rebel General said: “We will overrun these Rohling!” Rokhlin and really “dare”. On 3 July 1998 he was murdered at his dacha. The circumstances of the murder so mysterious, that allow to make an unambiguous conclusion that it was not domestic. After that the plan of coup was instantly scattered, its leaders were not men of the same magnitude as Rokhlin.

That Rokhlin was going to do if the overthrow of Yeltsin took place?

I have heard from him that he is not eager for power. The task was only to remove Yeltsin and his team, and the fate of the country had to solve people by choosing the Constituent Assembly. But, in my opinion, if you took this case, nothing to be ashamed of: we must be prepared to take responsibility not only for organizing the coup, but also for the fate of the country.

– How would you describe the 90s in your life and the life of the country?

– These were the years of the great troubles which, despite today’s so-called political stability, in fact, continue. How do we come to what is false, so there and wander: the development programme the country has no goals no. Therefore, I am pessimistic look to the future. Unfortunately, times of great upheaval have not yet been. We are still living in conditions of a pending disaster. The only positive is damn 90’s did the majority of our citizens vaccinated against Western liberalism, and in the coming years, even decades, the Renaissance of liberal ideas does not threaten us.

 

Talked

Alexey SOCHNEV

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