On 19 August 1991, Soviet hardliners dismayed at the amount of ground they were conceding to reformists, made a desperate gambit by sending tanks into Moscow.
The conspirators reckoned without the will of a people hungry for democratic reforms - crowds of Muscovites attempted to stop the tanks, creating a powderkeg situation.
Future premier Boris Yeltsin stepped into the breach, urging civilians to resist the architects of the coup and the army not to turn against the people. His intervention thwarted the attempt, and diffused the most revolutionary situation in Russia since the uprising of 1917.
Watch original British Pathe footage from the attempted coup, above.