Glossary: August coup d'état

DEFINITION:
On August 19, 1991, high-ranking officials of the CPSU (q.v.) and the government of the Soviet Union (q.v.) announced that they had formed the State Committee for the State of Emergency and had removed Mikhail S. Gorbachev as the head of state. Leaders of most of the Soviet republics and many foreign leaders denounced the coup. Some key military commanders refused to deploy their forces in support of the coup leaders, and by August 22 the coup had collapsed. As a consequence of the failed coup, the CPSU and the Soviet central government were severely discredited, Gorbachev resigned, ten of the fifteen Soviet republics declared or reaffirmed their independence (including Belarus and Moldova), and the Congress of Peoples Deputies (q.v.) dissolved the Soviet Union and itself after transferring state power to a transitional government.

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