Europe

Soviet coup leader Gennady Yanayev dies

  • 24 September 2010
  • From the section Europe
Gennady Yanayev announces the coup at a press conference (19 August 1991)
Mr Yanayev was visibly shaking as he announced he was replacing Mr Gorbachev

Former Soviet Vice-President Gennady Yanayev, who led an abortive coup against Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991, has died in a Moscow hospital aged 73.

Russia's Communist Party said he had died on Friday after a lengthy illness.

Yanayev famously appeared at a news conference with shaking hands to announce he was replacing Mr Gorbachev.

The 12-member State Emergency Committee held power for only three days but the coup was widely seen to have hastened the fall of the Soviet Union.

Mr Gorbachev was on holiday in the Crimea, in Ukraine, when the group announced it was seizing power, with Vice-President Yanayev becoming president.

They said Mr Gorbachev was "very tired after all these years" and would "need some time to get better".

Yanayev - and the other coup leaders - were all arrested when the coup failed, but he was pardoned in 1994.

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