Damned august

Damned august

February 1993 of the year. Alexander Prokhanov (standing in the center) with the freed members of the Emergency Committee. From left to right (in the first row): O.D.Baklanov, G.I.Yanaev, A.I. Lukyanov, D.T. Yazov; (in the second row) V.V.Generalov, V.S. Pavlov, V.I. Varennikov, O.S.Shenin, V.A.Kryuchkov, Yu.S.Plekhanov. Photos of Y. Rybchinsky and V. Zaporozhchenko

The Communists burned the party cards.

KGBs hid in closets.
It was August. And ended the summer.
Everyone knew that a murder was being prepared.


19 August is coming. And every time that day during all the 25 years, something happens to my mind and to my heart. I feel aching pain, misunderstanding and unbearable bitterness as if these days there was a turning point not only in the fate of my homeland, but also in my own life, and some of its huge, blooming, full of hopes and dreams died, and instead another has arisen: a stoic, tough, cruel, based on the feeling of a continuous struggle stretching on for many decades.

I consider myself a member of the Emergency Committee, although not declared and not accepted by real members of the Emergency Committee in my community. For my newspaper - at that time “Day” and now “Tomorrow” - and I completely shared the aspirations and desires of that doomed group of people who decided to 19 August 1991 of the year to make the last hopeless attempt to save the Soviet Union.

All my life I was a novelist and considered writing novels and traveling where I collected materials for my novels at construction sites, in wars, and in closed laboratories as my main business. But after 1985, when Gorbachev came to power, and gradually, month after month, year after year, his new program, called "perestroika", opened up in me with all its terrible obviousness, I became a politician.

I wrote the article “The tragedy of centralism”, where, in some torturous and terrible insight, I predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union, with all the catastrophic consequences that would follow. Later, at the request of people close to me, including Gennady Zyuganov, I wrote “Word to the People”, in which there was a call - unfortunately belatedly - to rebuff Gorbachev’s policy of destruction and collapse.

And before that, I began to publish the patriotic newspaper Den, in which from the very first pages I began to print materials, interviews, meetings with the largest - alas, the latter - Soviet statesmen, most of whom later became members of the State Committee on the State of Emergency. They were Marshal of the Soviet Union, Minister of Defense Dmitry Yazov, Commander-in-Chief of the Black Sea Fleet Vladimir Chernavin, Commander-in-Chief of the Ground Forces Valentin Varennikov, director of the Ural Mechanical Plant Alexander Tizyakov and other characters close to the future members.

Shortly before this, fate brought me together with Oleg Dmitrievich Baklanov, who at that time held a major post of secretary of the Central Committee and curator of law enforcement agencies: I turned to his assistant — without any hope of receiving a positive response — with a proposal to make a conversation. And very soon there was a call, an invitation for this conversation. I remember my first meeting with Oleg Dmitrievich in his office in the Central Committee, where generals, designers, directors of large factories sat in the waiting room, watching with amazement as an unknown person passes to Baklanov, closes in the office and stays there for over an hour.

We talked with Baklanov about politics, about rocket technology, about cosmic mysticism, about the Russian consciousness, which is cosmic in its depths. While we were talking, the photographer shot us many times. I have a whole series of our photos: Oleg Dmitrievich and I are sitting, postures and facial expressions are changing. In essence, this conversation is all captured in frames.

After the conversation, we made friends with Baklanov, although we had a huge subordinate difference. Apparently, he was interested in a Russian writer, an intellectual, a technocrat in his habits, having original views on all current processes.

Baklanov began to invite me to his interesting, for many closed, trips, including in the composition of state commissions. So, I visited with him the Western Group of Forces at the moment when the Berlin Wall was already broken and East Germany was dying, writhing in the last throes of its existence.

He took me with him to a closed atomic city near Tomsk, where I saw the work of a reactor producing plutonium, and the mechanical arms of a steel manipulator, which made snow-like balls from this plutonium.


Cormorants took me to Afghanistan. It was one of my last trips there. We met with Najibullah. Then still alive, not hung. He blamed us for the fact that the Soviet Union, Gorbachev stopped supplying fuel and tank oils to Afghanistan, which sharply reduced the fighting capacity of the Afghan army. She began to give way to the mojahedin.

We went with him to the Urals, where he collected the color of the Ural directors, breeders, defense. I remember this meeting, where venerable men sat, smelted steel, created anti-aircraft missiles, fired elements of nuclear weapons. They talked about conversion. Baklanov asked me to speak in front of this meeting, to which I was completely unprepared. However, I spoke and retold the content of my article, The Tragedy of Centralism, where I predicted the collapse of their enterprises in the event of the end of the Soviet Union. I predicted the collapse of the Soviet technosphere, and if the Soviet state falls. My performance caused a sharply negative attitude. The directors looked at me as if they were mad, as provocateurs. They said: why does he scare us? Why hang noodles on our ears? And they blamed Baklanov for letting me out with a speech. I was very bitter. Although it did not shake my ideas about the processes. I looked at these wonderful people: the order bearers, the heroes of social labor — as if they were doomed, who did not yet know that their Atlantis was slowly sinking into non-being.

At the same time, with Baklanov and a group of military men, in particular, with the commander-in-chief of the fleet, the chief of the General Staff, we flew to Novaya Zemlya. In connection with the closure of the nuclear test site in Semipalatinsk, the question was raised about the resumption of nuclear testing at Novaya Zemlya. And the commission went there to consider the possibilities of this range on the spot.

I will never forget how at first Baklanov and I stood near a sophisticated interceptor, MiG (there, on this range, was based a regiment of interceptors, which apparently had to fly out towards the armada of American B-52 going through the pole with cargo of cruise missiles). And Oleg Dmitrievich touched a thin, razor-like wing. He admired the forms that were created by the designers and competed with nature by their beauty and perfection.
We also stood on the ocean, looked at this gray, steel, stormy elements. On the waves splashing, floated some kind of old board. And we fantasized that this board was the remnant of a great ship that was destroyed in the depths. It also seemed to me that this board is a tablet where secret lines are written, defining our entire destiny, including the collapse of our homeland.

When this board landed on the shore, I pushed it away, metaphysically wanting to save the country from the death sentence. And the wind, the waves again beat her to the shore.
When Baklanov and I returned from these trips, I felt that something was brewing. But I can not say that I felt a conspiracy, that I felt some kind of network, which was thrown on the country.

Baklanov put me in his car, took the radiotelephone and immediately began negotiations. He talked with Boldin, with Kryuchkov, with Pavlov, he called Pugo. And from these fragmentary conversations, in which Baklanov wanted to make sure of something, controlled something, I felt that there was a combination of efforts, a combination of people extremely alarmed by the situation in the country. Then I learned that all these people were members of the Emergency Committee.

I am especially sorry for Pugo Boris Karlovich, with whom I was introduced to the Cormorants at the airport when we got off the plane. I remember his broad, kind face and large warm palm, which then squeezed the gun. From which he shot himself and his wife.

On the nineteenth of August, I was at my dacha near Istra, in Alekhnovo, where there were literary garden plots. There and I had a wooden house, a small - in the 6 acres - plot. In the morning I was woken up by an agitated neighbor. Extremely excited, he said: "Did you hear? Tanks in Moscow. Gorbachev was finally dismissed, finally."

I was extremely pleased. Immediately got into the car, went to Moscow and went straight to his editorial office, which was located on Tsvetnoy Boulevard in the building of the Literary Gazette. All my colleagues were already in place. On the wall was a galvanized metal sheet, which at that time used a printing house to print materials. On this sheet was my interview, which I interviewed from Leonid Shebarshin - then the chief of foreign intelligence and the first deputy Kryuchkov. This was the last publication before the State Emergency Committee, which was made by the newspaper Den.

The news of the State Emergency Committee caught all the Moscow serviceman by surprise. No one knew that this speech was being prepared, everyone was extremely embarrassed, confused. I was embarrassed by the very nature of this event: the absence of the internees, the work of all communication systems. All phones worked: city, internal, closed. They worked in the same mode of radio, television, from time to time automatically repeating the text of the manifesto of the Emergency Committee.

The high-ranking officials knew my proximity to the gocechepists: to the Ministry of Defense, and to Baklanov, and to Kryuchkov, who, as I was told, carefully read my article “The Tragedy of Centralism”, emphasizing with various felt-tip pens in various places. And what was strange was that the party nomenklatura bureaucracy found nothing better than to contact me in order to receive information about the Emergency Committee. I remember that Nikolai Ivanovich Shlyaga, the then head of the political department of the army, rang the second figure after the Minister of Defense, who would receive all the information from his chief Yazov. But there was no such information. And Shlyaga called me to find out more about the Emergency Committee and maybe even get some directives from me. God knows, I did not order Shlyage to move to the front with a platoon of motorcyclists, but simply said what I knew myself.

In the evening of the same day, Vladimir Nikolaevich Sevruk, a powerful leader of the Central Committee, a master of ideology, came to my home. By that time he was already slightly pressed, perhaps even in disgrace, for his radical Soviet views. We sometimes met with him, but this time he came to my house, without warning: he rang the doorbell and entered. I then lived in Pushkin Square, and he worked in Izvestia opposite, across the street. He was in an elegant gray suit, was in great shape, inspired, and said: "If the party requires my presence, I am at your disposal." And this he told me, to a man who had never been in the party, as if I were the secretary of the Central Committee! He also assumed that I belonged to that group. Oh, the great illusions, oh, the incompetence of our politicians, oh, the delusions that they feed to this day not only in relation to my person, but also in relation to the structure of the country.

These three days I remember very poorly. There was some confusion, a change of events. The troops entered on the first day, they rumbled through the main streets. Then I saw these tanks, which stopped, the girls and young people climbed on them and shoved carnations into the guns.
I rushed to the White House and saw the tanks standing there. And although they came there supposedly to protect this building from pogroms, but they were already turned over, they were tank-traitors. I saw barricades around the White House. But these were absolutely ephemeral barricades: some pieces of wire, fittings, plywood shields ... I climbed through it all very easily, but did not go inside the building, because it was hostile to me from there. Apparently, I felt that Rostropovich was running around this building, holding a machine gun in his hands.

Then the crashes began. A strange press conference, where Yanaev’s hands were shaking ... In my novel, The Death of the Red Gods, I wrote that during this press conference, the opponents of the Emergency Committee turned on the refrigerators, and all the gakachepisty were covered with frost, their hands were shaking from the cold.
Then the trips began, throwing gakkachepistov in Foros to Gorbachev ... I did not understand what was happening. I was at that time in absolute isolation from my gekachepistkikh acquaintances. Only once, when I got to meet with Varennikov, I got through to him. Then he returned from the Kiev Military District. I asked: what is happening? He said: "I will explain later, and now I will shake your hand." So he said: "I shake your hand."

Then there was a night with three crushed activists who set fire to the cars, and the cars, blinded by fire, rushed forward and chopped them with their tracks. There was blood. This was what is now called the sacred sacrifice. This created a situation of a completely new psychology. The front-line soldier Yazov, who had seen so much blood in his lifetime, put so many of his comrades into mass graves, death soared over his head so many times - he was broken by this blood, this sacred sacrifice. And he ordered the withdrawal of troops from Moscow.

Now, after many years, returning to those times, thinking, recalling, looking through documents, I have no doubt that the restructuring of Gorbachev, which some people call an unsuccessful attempt to reform the Soviet Union, was in fact a four-year-long special operation. When in layers, every year, every day, every day the ideological constants that held the Soviet state were destroyed by means of television, the press, and party leaders. The ideas about the heroes of the civil war, the Great Patriotic War, the Great Five-Year Plans, the Soviet culture, the Soviet military-industrial complex, the Soviet army were destroyed. Everything was destroyed and destroyed. By the time these constants were destroyed, the Soviet ideology remained from the Soviet ideology, which meant that the state was left with liquid. And the state fell.

The State Emergency Committee was the final chord, the final phase of this special operation. Alexander Ivanovich Tizyakov, a Uralets citizen, told me that Gorbachev himself was looking through the lists of the Emergency Committee and included those or other members there. In particular, Vasily Aleksandrovich Starodubtsev. According to Gorbachev, the Emergency Committee was supposed to detonate a coup, stir up the nation. And then, when Yeltsin was to be arrested, this order should not have been received. And Kryuchkov did not give this order. Kryuchkov was part of this Gorbachev plot. After the order was not followed, the Emergency Committee, not fulfilling its main task, was confused, he was destroyed, rushed to Gorbachev, urging him to return to Moscow. Gorbachev threw the Emergency Committee across the moat, to Yeltsin, gave it to the mercy of the democratic crowd.

At that time, a real, not imaginary, coup d'etat was accomplished. He concluded that when Gorbachev returned from Foros, Yeltsin, who had seized all his powers during the GKChP - control over the army, special services, finances, industry, did not return him these powers, and Gorbachev did not demand them. Thus, after August 1991, all powers from the union center were transferred to the regional - to the Russian - center. And the union center as such disappeared. Nothing more restrained the suburbs, the republics, and they began to crumble, disintegrate. I repeat: the State Emergency Committee is not a farce, not an error of weak people. This is the final phase of the special operation called Perestroika.

Moscow remained empty for the whole night. It was a terrible time. It seemed that Moscow had sucked all the air, it was airless. Hot asphalt steel night color, which was dimly reflected lights, inflamed air ....
And then Yeltsin from Alma-Ata came to Moscow and was not arrested as planned. For according to the State Emergency Committee, immediately after the announcement of the manifesto, fifty or sixty people were supposed to intern, among them Yeltsin. And I know that when Yeltsin was driving from the airport to Moscow, to the White House, the Alpha group sat in the roadside thicket, waiting for Kryuchkov’s order to block the road and arrest Yeltsin. There was no order. And Yeltsin safely rushed to the center of Moscow, climbed onto the tank ... We know this centaur: with the body of the tank and the head of Yeltsin.
It was an absolutely psychological turning point when the Emergency Committee fell under the authority of these hypnotic forces.

I needed to understand what happened. Because I had to issue a newspaper issue. I called several times to the reception room of Baklanov in the Central Committee, I had excellent relations with his assistant. And on TV they broadcast: the arrests of the gakachepistov, among those arrested and Oleg Baklanov. And I stopped calling, believing that this meeting was not destined to take place. But suddenly a bell rang in my house, Baklanov’s assistant on the phone, said: “You wanted to see Oleg Dmitrievich? He’s in his office, you can come.” It terribly amazed me, because everyone said that he was arrested. And he was free.

I threw everything and went to the Old Square. It was an amazing march. The State Emergency Committee has already lost. All Moscow raged and curled over the victorious liberals and democrats. When I walked along Tverskaya to the Old Square, they recognized me. They did not pounce on me, but screamed, shouted, someone spat in my direction, because I was a herald of this putsch. No wonder Alexander Yakovlev subsequently called the Den newspaper the putsch laboratory, and Prokhanov the chief theoretician of the putsch.

I went to see Oleg Dmitrievich Baklanov. And I was scared to go. It seemed to me that I was going to the right slaughter. And frankly speaking, I trembled.

I got to the building of the Central Committee. I have already been issued a pass. I thought that the guards at the turnstiles - state security officers - would arrest me here.
But I passed without any hindrances, took the elevator to the floor where Baklanov's office was located, entered the reception room. Usually in this reception room was crowded. There were always important noble people, and everyone needed something from Baklanov: help, signature, advice, support ... And now the reception room was completely empty, the door to the office was opened. Oleg Dmitrievich walked around the office. I entered, saw him very tired, unshaven. He returned from Foros the day before. He walked around the room intimidated, in the office of a champing machine, which was cutting documents for noodles. Apparently, he destroyed some papers that could hurt everyone. We hugged. We had no conversation. It was not to talk - everything was hanging by a thread. I just asked: "What happened, Oleg Dmitrievich?" He paused, and then said: Yazov and Kryuchkov faltered. He also told me: "My advice to you is to lie down on the bottom."
We hugged and I left. Two hours later he was arrested.

After that, there was that terrible night — when monuments were being poured, when Moscow was buzzing with an abundance of Democrats, they went happy. And I had the feeling that the spirits of Moscow are flying away. All the red angels fly away. There was a sense of metaphysical catastrophe that was in Moscow. There was a feeling that Red Atlantis was dying, and I, along with it, was also doomed to death.

Then there were terrible days immediately after the Emergency Committee. I went to the editorial office - and I went to the editorial office and worked, like all my comrades: we supported each other, understood the danger that hung over us, waited for repression - correspondents began to come to my office. After all, I was, of course, a herald of a coup, a herald of resistance, I was a singer of the Soviet Union, and they all came to enjoy my defeat, to see my weakness, my cowardice, to see my fear-filled eyes, to hear my excuses.

I remember two visits. The visit of a famous TV man, but I already forgot his name. He came to me and under the camera asked: "How do you feel about the blood that is spilled on the street?" And I said: if in order to save millions of my compatriots and the fate of my fatherland, blood is needed, it was worth shedding that blood. It went on the air and scrolled repeatedly. I watched TV and saw myself sitting at a table in a white suit and pronouncing this phrase. And everyone said: here he is, cannibal, bloodsucker, fascist.

And the second memorable visit is the correspondent of Komsomolskaya Pravda. He came and ironically began to say: "Now, finally, the long-awaited freedom has come. How do you feel about freedom?" And I said: "Damn your freedom, if it is worth the fate of my state." This material and went out in "Komsomolskaya Pravda" - "Damn your freedom." And this material also had to serve defamation, humiliation and extermination of my will, suppression of my health. I was at the borderline. All fears, horrors, all birth injuries resurrected. They lived in me, they choked. I could break, probably. And in order not to break down, in order not to retreat, I decided to rush forward.

After Baklanov advised me to lie down on the bottom, I gave the entire number of pictures I took after the first conversation with the State Emergency Committee of the newspaper that the photographer did during our first conversation with Baklanov - she was all upset. I said this way: yes, I am a member of the register, yes, I am with Baklanov, we are together, we are indissoluble, I assume everything. And I still praise myself for this act.

This drama, this disaster was transferred to the depths of the Union of Writers. Immediately Sergei Mikhalkov, who was then head of the Union, gathered the entire secretariat. And I was the chief editor of The Day, it belonged to the Writers' Union, and I also attended.
At that moment in my office on the wall was hanging upcoming newspaper strip, I had to issue a number. And the first thing Mikhalkov did was, the State Emergency Committee supported: "I support the State Emergency Committee." And in our newspaper in the set, in the galley was: "Mikhalkov supported the State Emergency Committee." I'm on the phone dictated it in the newspaper. During that meeting at the secretariat, we began to think. I do not remember who behaved like myself. And then I thought that there would be a very hard pressing - Soviet such - for all these democratic traitors, and I, the bureaucrats, said: "It seems to me that we, the writers, must stand against possible reprisals. We should take those under our wing who is likely to be pursued. "

In short, the Secretariat’s viewpoint on events has changed several times. On the wall, in these newspapers, my comrades several times changed their point of view. And in the end, the idea of ​​neutrality was expressed: we are aloof from this.
In the Writers' Union, there was such a consultant at the time - Savelyev, an unsympathetic figure, he was already dead, but then he, when the secretariat was not even finished, when Mikhalkov just said that the State Emergency Committee should support, he immediately tapped off - or went - to Komsomomolk , and there came out the material "Union of Writers of the USSR supported the State Emergency Committee." What was the reason for the immediate defeat of the Writers' Union. A group of liberal writers rushed there: Yevtushenko, Grigory Baklanov ... They came in the wake of suppression, hatred, and their victory. And none of our secretaries of the Writers' Union did not show up - everyone was scared - such was the pressure. All scattered! Worthy people - order bearers, gray hair ... None of them came to fight with these nouveau riche.
And the center of writing has moved from Vorovskogo Street - from the House of Rostovs, where there was a big Union, to Komsomolsky Avenue - to the Union of Writers of Russia. All patriotic writers came there these nights nights. Everyone was waiting for an attack on this house. They said that Yevgeny Yevtushenko with the police and the prefect Muzykantsky now come here, they will arrest, expel.

And we decided to keep the defense. Now it's funny, but then it was a very powerful decision. Young people from the Slavic Cathedral joined the writers and were with them. I do not remember their names. But they were beautiful people with blond beards, with blue eyes. They created a militarized department, hung out orders: order No. 1, order No. 2 ... According to one of the orders, it was supposed to break all the furniture there and barricade it on the ground floor windows. Fortunately, the furniture was not broken, and the windows remained intact.
That night, we gathered, sang Russian songs, recited poems, played guitars, drank vodka, framed. It seemed to us that Atlantis was going down. So we spent that night. Muzykantsky came to the house, but the Union remained for Russian writers.
Then came the days after the defeat of the State Emergency Committee, the hysteria of the victorious liberals. The Day was closed for re-registration, kept in uncertainty for a very long time, and then we, the staff of The Day, went to picket the Ministry of Information. It was located somewhere on Povarskaya, Poltoranin was the minister. We stood in rows in pickets, we had posters on our chests. Liberal journalists, including Mark Deutsch, full of irony, came to watch our picket.

But we persevered then. Heads bowed, almost everything bent: army, state security, directors. Only Anpilov’s and Russian writers did not give up along with our newspaper.
After this came the long grueling days of battles that led us to 1993. And this battle has acquired new bloody forms.
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