Timeline of the 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt

This is a time line of the 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt, starting from the house arresting of Mikhail Gorbachev and ending in the surrender of the failed coup leaders.


Date Description
August 19, 04:00 General Igor Maltsev orders the Crimean Airport to close. Warships are anchored near Kap Foros, which is located near the summer villa of president Mikhail Gorbachev.[1]
August 19, 05:57 A State of Emergency is declared in all of the territory of the Soviet Union. All the power is under the State Committee on the State of Emergency which members are Vice President Gennady Yanayev, Premier Valentin Pavlov, Interior Minister Boris Pugo, Defence Minister Dmitry Yazov, Chairman of the KGB Vladimir Kryuchkov, First Deputy Chairman of the Defense Council of the USSR Oleg Baklanov, Chairman of the Peasants' Union of the USSR Vasily Starodubtsev, President of the Association of State Enterprises Alexander Tizyakov [ru]
August 19, 09:00 Tanks are driven near the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic's Parliament Building where President Boris Yeltsin is located.
August 19, 10:40 State Committee on the State of Emergency dissolves the freedom of press.
August 19, 10:45 Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic President Boris Yeltsin condemns the coup and encourages a general strike.
August 19, 12:00 Tanks are driven near the Kremlin and Red Square. People gather near the Parliament Building of the Russian Soviet Federation to give support to Yeltsin and build barricades around the Parliament Building.
August 19, 13:00 Georgia's president Zviad Gamsakhurdia encourages people to be calm in Tbilisi.
August 19, 14:00 U.S. President George H. W. Bush condemns the coup.
August 19, 16:10 Boris Yeltsin declares himself the legal Head of State of Russia. State Committee on the State of Emergency declares an emergency in Moscow and Leningrad. Miners strike starts in Russia.
August 19, 16:35 Lithuania's President Vytautas Landsbergis encourages people to start passive resistance.
August 19, 17:00 State Committee on the State of Emergency holds its first press conference in the Foreign Ministary Building. Gennadi Yanayev announces that President Gorbachev is sick and is staying in Crimea.
August 19, 20:00 State Committee on the State of Emergency warns Boris Yeltsin not to provoke the masses.
August 19, 21:00 Tamanskaya elite force tanks proceed to support Yeltsin.
August 20, 00:30 U.S. President George H. W. Bush calls the coup leaders in an effort to restore Gorbachev to power.[1]
August 20, 01:00 Tens of thousands of people demonstrate near the Russian Parliament Building.
August 20, 04:00 Mayor of Leningrad, Anatoly Sobchak, condemns the coup.
August 20, 08:00 Soviet Army's Baltic commander Fedor Kuzmin declares control over Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
August 20, 12:00 Over 100,000 people demonstrate against the coup in Leningrad.
August 20, 14:00 Moldavia's premier Valeriu Muravschi declares his support for Yeltsin.
August 20, 15:00 European Community halts all economic aid en route to the Soviet Union.
August 20, 16:00 U.S. President George H. W. Bush gives his support to Boris Yeltsin by telephone, supporting the return of Gorbachev to power.
August 20, 19:50 Ukraine's Parliament condemns the coup. Kazakhstan's president Nursultan Nazarbayev condemns the coup and resigns from the Politburo and Central Committee.
August 20, 20:00 Yeltsin takes control of all Russian troops under his command. Curfew is declared at night time.
August 20, 20:35 State Committee on the State of Emergency's member Premier Valentin Pavlov is announced that he is ill.
August 20, 21:00 State Committee on the State of Emergency's member Defence Minister Dmitry Yazov resigns because of health reasons.
August 20, 23:00 In Moscow tens of thousands of people condemn the coup.
August 20, 23:10 Estonia declares independence from the Soviet Union, restoring a status which dated back to February 1918.
August 20, 23:59 Demonstrators burn two tanks in front of the Parliament Building
August 21, 00:01 Tanks are not able to break the barricades in the front of the Russian Parliament Building.[1]
August 21, 00:40 Three civilians are shot in a skirmish in Moscow.
August 21, 01:31 Army fails to break the barricades in front of the Russian Parliament Building
August 21, 02:21 Civilians form a human chain in front of the Russian Parliament Building. Arrest warrant issued for Yeltsin.
August 21, 08:39 Russian Parliament Building still free. Some tanks defect to Yeltsin's side.
August 21, 09:20 General strike starts in Latvia.
August 21, 11:50 Mikhail Gorbachev refuses to return to Moscow as offer behest of the coup leaders. Yeltsin also refuses to travel to Crimea to get Gorbachev back to Moscow.
August 21, 13:00 Uzbekistan's president Islam Karimov declares the State Committee's actions illegal and threatens to leave the Communist Party
August 21, 13:15 Coup leaders flee Moscow.
August 21, 13:29 Soviet Russian Parliament gives mandate to Yeltsin to arrest the coup leaders.
August 21, 13:39 Military cadre agree to pull all troops from Moscow.
August 21, 14:59 Coup leaders escape to Crimea.
August 21, 15:20 Ministry of Defense announces that all troops are pulled out back to bases.
August 21, 16:13 Some coup leaders are arrested in Sverdlovsk, Byelorussia.
August 21, 16:15 Supreme Soviet's Defense Committee declares the emergency over.
August 21, 16:29 Two members of the State Committee on the State of Emergency, KGB's Kryuchkov and Defense Minister Yazov travel to Crimea to meet Gorbachev.
August 21, 17:00 Soviet troops pull out from Lithuania. Press censorship is lifted.
August 21, 17:10 Soviet Parliament abolishes the State Committee on the State of Emergency's instructions and restores Gorbachev to power.
August 21, 18:14 Supreme Soviet announces that Gorbachev is President of the Soviet Union again.
August 21, 18:30 Gorbachev leaves Crimea
August 21, 18:59 Coup leader Vice-President Gennadi Yanayev returns to the Kremlin
August 21, 19:19 U.S. President George H. W. Bush talks with Gorbachev by telephone.
August 21, 20:13 Gorbachev is announced to rule the Soviet Union again.
August 21, 20:17 Four coup leaders are located at Gorbachev's summer villa in Crimea.


  1. ^ a b c Hybinette-Bergknut, Leena . ' Vuosi 91: Kaappaajat pelkäsivät liittosopimusta. 1991. pages 186–187. Bertmark Kustannus Oy. Helsinki (in Finnish)