The Soviet coup of August 1991: why it happened, and why it was doomed to fail
Vogt, William Charles
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This thesis explores the events in the Soviet Union that preceded the August 1991 coup. In addition, it will examine the failure of the coup itself. Using a methodology of policy analysis, two questions are investigated. The first is why did Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev seemingly align himself with conservatives during the Fall and Winter of 1990-1991? Secondly, once the conservatives were in a position to control the USSR, why did they fail? The first question is answered by showing that Gorbachev's movement away from reform was a pragmatic effort to retain his power as President of the USSR. The second question is answered by presenting evidence that reforms within the USSR had progressed to such a point that the media and the people were able to perform an important role in defeating the coup. The fact that the majority of the Armed Forces failed to support the plotters was also very significant.
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