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Digital Archive International History Declassified

Biographies

Gennadiy Yanayev

Vice-President of the Soviet Union and leader of the August Coup of 1991.

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Biography

b. 1937

Gennadiy Yanayev was Vice-President of the Soviet Union and leader of the August Coup of 1991.

Yanayev was not a prominent member of the party, but one with a reputation for hard work and loyalty. In 1990 he was Mikhail Gorbachev’s choice to be vice-president of the Soviet Union, a move widely believed to be an appeasement of conservative elements of the Communist Party displeased with perestroika. His appointment upset reformers.

Yanayev with seven others lead the August 1991 coup d’état against Gorbachev. Yanayev assumed the presidency when Gorbachev was falsely declared ill. He also went on national television to inform the Soviet people of the coup and he was seen visibly trembling and many thought he was drunk. On August 22, 1991 he was arrested and charged with treason, later to be pardoned in 1994, in the blanket amnesty given to conspirators.