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The failed August 1991 coup marked the practical finish of Gorbachev’s rule, the triumph of Boris Yeltsin, and the end of the USSR. This chapter discusses the origins, events, and consequences of the coup. It describes Gorbachev’s ambiguous relations with the coup, Yeltsin’s courageous and decisive resistance, the incompetent behavior of the coup organizers, and divisions within the Soviet military that resulted in cancellation of a planned attack on coup opponents gathered at the Russian White House. The chapter discusses reaction to the coup by President Bush, the role of the US embassy, and the cautious response by most Soviet...

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