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The Forerunner

The Moscow 1991 Revolution: An Eyewitness Account

By Alexei Salapatov
Published December 1, 1991

A report by the editor-in-chief of the Russian language Forerunner

This article was written shortly after the events of August 1991 in Moscow. I was there from beginning to end. I wrote a short day-by-day chronicle of all the facts written here. You heard all about this from newspapers, television and mass media in America, no doubt. These are my own observations and thoughts. The tenses are mixed because I divide the events as they are happening from other information about the coup. If my style seems informal, this is because I am questioning the greater significance of this “Last Revolution.” Here I am wondering if it will be the last revolution in our history. If God has shown me something here, then I must tell my story. Let God help me to inquire into these things which I have seen to reveal the Truth.

On August 18th, I am leaving Kiev for Moscow in the evening to deal with some problems concerning the printing of our newspaper – Predvestnik. As usual, the atmosphere of the train station reminds me of a large eastern bazaar. There are many people around. Some are seeking tickets, others sleep on the floor or wait for the train. The air is very hot and dry in Kiev. As the train pulls away from the station and travels for a few hours we enter rain

On the morning of August 19th, the train arrives in Moscow on time at 9:09 am. The scenario is ordinary – nothing unusual here – except for one interesting trifle. The train stewards whisper to their colleagues arriving from other cities: “Did you hear about it?” – “Haven’t you heard about that yet?”

I didn’t suspect that anything unusual was happening, so I didn’t think anything of it. Perhaps these whispers were brought about by the death of some high ranking official in Moscow or by violence caused by the racketeers who control the black market trade around the station. Nothing in any way suggests a crisis or high treason. I immediately leave the station and ride the Metro to the Sevastopol Hotel.

Having come to the office of Christian Youth International located at the hotel, I greeted everyone there and introduce myself to the new director, Steve Connolly. I had come to clear up some questions concerning our first newspaper edition.

The first news I heard of the coup was from the BBC World News Service: “Yesterday tanks rolled into Moscow – Three people were killed.” Later we found out that soldiers killed two people pumped up by drugs who were trying to break through a barricade.

Despite everything that is happening, we decide to pursue business as usual. Even the coup isn’t a good enough reason for us to avoid the job we have come to do.

We meet with the head of the publishing company who informs us about the continuing negotiations with the coup plotters for their surrender. I don’t know if it is the truth or not – but it seems that the coup was organized in an amateurish fashion. Even such an important thing as the curfew they imposed was not observed.

Coming back to the hotel in a private, car our attention is riveted on a small radio tuner. We are able to tune in the democratic station, Radio of Russia, since it is close by. The announcer tells of the people’s resistance to the communist troops: “And now all members of the so-called emergency committee are trying to reach Vnukovo airport.”

Using all my knowledge of English, I interpret these sensational messages to Steve: “Oh, yes it seems that the ordeal is coming to a close.” Steve asks, “Do you mean it’s over? The Revolution is finished?” I said, “Yes, I hope it’s over!”

We praise God that this conspiracy ended as quickly as it began. Even the weather changes from a nasty rain to sunshine. We are having lunch and I am informing Steve and another staff member about some footnotes of Russian history, about times of coups, revolutions, putches …

I couldn’t help wondering: Was this the last deed of its kind in Russia?

Who knows? God alone …


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