"Esteemed citizens of Russia! On 3 and 4 October Russia experienced an extremely great tragedy. Gangs of murderers and thugs poured onto the streets of our capital. They smashed up state institutions and mistreated people whom they took hostage. They seized city buses and trucks. Many weapons, much ammunition, and many military vehicles ended up in the hands of thugs. The lives of peaceful city dwellers were placed in deadly peril. What happened in Moscow last Sunday was not some kind of spontaneous demonstration. All this has a different name -- an armed mutiny, planned and prepared by the leaders of the former Supreme Soviet, the former vice president, and the leaders of a number of parties and organizations. Among these were the "National Salvation Front," and first and foremost "Trudovaya Rossiya" [Working Russia] which is a part of it, a number of communist parties and groups, the fascist "Russian National Unity," and others. Fascists joined ranks with communists and the swastika with the hammer and sickle in this dark deed. Among the organizers of and active participants in this mutiny were certain former people's deputies who for a long time had been carrying out what were in point of fact criminal activities. Under cover of their immunity as deputies, they used them for incitement to violence, to organize mass bloody disturbances, and to unleash a civil war. Their purpose was to establish a bloody communist-fascist dictatorship in Russia. It is clear today that this had been prepared over the course of many months. A great deal is currently being said about the slowness, the hesitation, the confusion of the authorities. I have to say bluntly -- not everyone had sufficient self-possession, not everyone had the strength and nerve to withstand the gigantic tension at the most critical moment. The bloody events of that night forced us to bring regular army units into Moscow. A grave decision was made to storm the White House building, which had turned into a citadel of terrorism with a huge number of weapons and huge amount of ammunition, and had become the most dangerous factor in unleashing civil war in Russia. It was precisely from the White House that the militants' actions were being coordinated, and it was precisely there that illegal armed detachments were being set up. "To the Mayor's office!" "To Ostankino!" "To the Kremlin!" But the White House has also become a symbol of perfidy and treachery. All preparations for the rebellion were conducted under the cover of the talks. The noble intentions of the Russian Orthodox Church to help resolve the crisis were trampled underfoot. There is something else I have to say. There would have been considerably fewer victims if the militants and snipers holed up in the House of Soviets had not fired directly at civilians and if the order to surrender weapons had been given when resistance became pointless. The flame of civil war in Russia has been extinguished. But one's heart is heavy because an enormous price had to be paid to do this. I am grieved that amid the ashes people have already started creating a commotion for the sake of petty political advantage, for the sake of saving the reputations of those who covered themselves with shame that night. May God be their judge! We should learn most serious lessons so that this does not happen again. Why did we resign ourselves to the fact that organizations which not only incited violence but also organized it were legal in Russia? They were never rebuffed either by the Procuracy, or by the law enforcement bodies. Society had almost resigned itself to the fact that the Supreme Soviet and the congress became their main protectors. As a result, their escapades became increasingly brazen and sinister. Why is it that any action, even a timid action strengthening law and order, and any measure with elements of toughness met a cool attitude, to put it mildly, on the part of many journalists, people who consider themselves democrats? Even when for the sake of Muscovites' safety we were forced to create a cordon around the "White House," which was crammed with lethal weaponry, from all sides there showered down accusations of cruelty and heartlessness, of a revival of authoritarianism. The main lesson is that democracy must be reliably defended. The state must use force if there arises a threat of violence or threat to citizens' lives and safety. Without that there is no democracy. Everyone who took up arms and participated in the disorders will be punished with all the severity of the law. All purveyors of fascist-communist ideas, who incited people to rebel, will also be made answerable in accordance with the law. There will be no more leniency to communist-fascism in Russia. The cause of the tragic events in Moscow lay in the fact that too many people here wanted to prolong the pernicious diarchy destroying Russia. Literally immediately after the abolition of the Supreme Soviet and the setting of parliamentary elections, a blanket campaign to win over the regions was unleashed. They started to create a new enemy to the executive in the form of the so-called Council of Component Parts of the Federation. It is difficult to say which played the greater part here -- political ineptitude and naivete or cold calculation. Indeed each step in this direction was a blow against the state, against unity and the integrity of Russia. With each of these steps the aggression and effrontery of those who had chosen the path of violence and arbitrary rule mounted. I consider that the Constitutional Court is to blame to a large extent for the events. This body long ago violated the crucial principle that the Constitutional Court is independent from the political environment. Long ago it turned into the prosecutor of the executive and the acolyte of the lawmakers. Incidentally, the Courts appeared not to notice that the Russian Constitution was being violated by numerous amendments. It ignored the crying contradictions in the Constitution, intentionally exacerbated by the Congress. There is something special to be said about the Soviets. Each of them has deputies who support reforms, but regardless of this, the stance of most of them meant in fact, after 21 September, that any actions of the former Supreme Soviet were justified per se. Moreover, it [the Supreme Soviet] was being provoked and pushed toward the violence, and all kinds of hints of support were being made. I have no doubt that, should the insurgents have taken the upper hand, the majority of Soviets would have come out in their support. I state with all responsibility that the majority of the bodies of soviet power bear direct responsibility for the extreme exacerbation of the situation in Moscow. The system of the soviets has shown complete disregard for the security of the state and its citizens and has itself brought its own political destiny to an end. I believe that the soviets, who took up irreconcilable positions, must not now adapt themselves to the new situation but take an honorable and courageous decision on self-dissolution and leave peacefully, like human beings, without further shocks and scandals. Life itself demands this. Administrations of krays and oblasts have been given instructions to draw up a list of measures as soon as possible for social guarantees for deputies. At the same time it is necessary to devise as soon as possible a mechanism for transforming the soviets into normal bodies of representative power. The Public Chamber [Obshchestvennaya Palata], the Committee for Legislative Proposals, and the Committee on Human Rights could have their say here -- everyone who has an interest in strengthening Russian statehood. Of course, elections to new representative bodies of power in the localities have to be held in December, without delay. Esteemed fellow citizens! Having lived through the terrible days and nights, we can nevertheless be confident that it has not proved possible to unleash civil war in Russia. The insurgents in our capital remained outsiders. The people of Moscow despise and curse them. They failed to split the country, to split the army, and the state. However, the problems which the revolt laid bare are extremely serious. We need a normal democratic Constitution as much as we need air. We need a united Russia. Playing at regional isolation is counter to the interests and will of the majority of the country's population. We need a complete reform of the army and the security bodies. We need to continue unswervingly the economic transformations, supporting all of the government's efforts directed toward this end. To restore order and stability and cleanse Moscow of fighters once and for all, a state of emergency has been introduced in the capital for one week. Depending on the situation, this time-span can be reduced or slightly increased. Most Muscovites and citizens of Russia realise the need for this harsh measure and support it. At the same time, several tough measures envisaged under the Law on the State of Emergency are unnecessary in present circumstances. Instructions to lift the precautionary censorship of the mass media have already been issued. However, I would like to give the following warning. If anybody thinks that the situation has completely returned to normal, they are making a big mistake. Passions have not subsided. Careless and irresponsible words could inflame them again. I appeal to journalists to display a sense of civic duty. Quite a few heavy responsibilities lie on the shoulders of servicemen, law enforcement personnel, and firemen at this time. They are working in an extremely tight regime, risking their lives, and bearing all the weight of the state of emergency. My heartfelt gratitude to you for removing the danger of pogroms and anarchy in Moscow, for stopping raging banditism, and averting an extremely dangerous political escapade. During these days the workload of the medical staff has increased manyfold. You are saving lives, helping many people, and taking upon yourselves part of their suffering and pain. I am grateful to you, because in difficult conditions, even in the face of bullets, you remained faithful to the Hippocratic oath. One of the main attacks of the rebels was on mass information media. I thank all those who, at the most dramatic moments of the October mutiny, continued to broadcast on television and radio. I thank the journalists who worked in dangerous areas of Moscow. The blood of journalists was spilled in this tragedy. I bow before the courage of the staff of the Ostankino television center who, at the price of their lives, upheld their right to freedom of information. I would like to express words of gratitude to Muscovites for their support for the president and the government. Over the past few days our city has become the "hottest spot" in Russia. But for your stand, but for those who came to the city center that night, it cannot be ruled out that the price which one would have had to pay to defend freedom and democracy would have been immeasurably higher. Russia and the whole world today express respect for your courage, your dignity, and your choice. Esteemed citizens of Russia! The worst is over, but to ensure that peace and calm in our country are not disrupted, we all need to strengthen our state and strengthen democracy. Elections to the Federal Assembly will be held on 12 December and, I think, to new representative bodies in the localities. All politicians, parties, and movements which have not discredited themselves by direct participation in the insurrection, are guaranteed equal chances. Over the past few days we have seen for ourselves how great the price of political indifference can be. Such indifference is no answer, is no guarantee of personal safety. How can anyone sleep peacefully when their home is set on fire? I appeal to you, esteemed compatriots, to actively participate in the elections and to elect decent, competent, intelligent, and cultured people -- those who are not capable of betrayal. Dear compatriots! We have left behind the nightmare of those black days. One should not say that there were certain winners or certain losers. Today these words are misplaced, they are blasphemous. We have all been burned by the deadly breath of fratricide. People, our compatriots, were killed. One cannot bring them back. Pain and suffering have entered many families. However different their convictions, they were all children of Russia. This is our common tragedy, our common sorrow -- the great sorrow. Let us remember this madness, so that it will never be allowed to repeat itself."
© GLASNOST, Berlin 1992 - 2018