Powerless people take to the streets
Monday 29 March 1993
They had followed a tortuous route, marching past the symbols of their power, falling in a sombre mood before the greatest of them all, the plinth on Lubyanka Square which once supported 14 tons of bronze. Only the stump of Felix Dzerzhinsky, founder of the Communist secret police, lingers as a distant memory of the last time the people of Russia seized their destiny. When Felix tumbled in the aftermath of the failed coup in August 1991, it brought the entire edifice of Communism crashing down, burying the Soviet Union in the rubble.
Or so it was thought. The people who trudged through the slush yesterday, chanting 'Yeltsin, Freedom, Russia', were led by a banner depicting a Neanderthal creature armed with a hammer and a sickle. It read: 'Warning - They're Back'.
And they were, moving in a straight line from Gorky Park to the Kremlin, under their nostalgic red flags, usurping the slogan of East Europe's revolutions: 'We are the people.' In their crowd of up to 20,000, Communists and nationalists mingled with ease, sustained by a common conviction that Russia was in peril; Boris Yeltsin was selling out their country to the the West. They screamed for Mr Yeltsin's arrest and called for a return to Soviet power.
The two crowds, separated by rows of buses and a phalanx of policemen, never came into contact, and seemed almost unaware of each other's existence. Their attentions were fixed on the goings-on at Congress.
Russia's fate was once again being decided by a few hundred men inside the Kremlin, and the people were feeling like extras on a giant movie set. 'So what are we supposed to do now?' a woman asked in frustration as news of Congress rejecting Mr Yeltsin's compromise for early elections filtered out. Nobody had an answer.
The spell was broken only when their hero appeared on the podium, punching the air and flashing the victory sign. He was looking fit, unlike the previous night when he seemed devastated by the death of his mother. 'I submit to the will of the people,' Mr Yeltsin pledged.
Those in front applauded, those on the other side of the cordon booed, and the deputies in Congress carried on passing their amendments regardless.
- 1 Scottish independence: Ireland since 1919 is a lesson for Scotland in what a Yes vote means
- 2 Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 3 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 4 Julian Assange and Edward Snowden join piracy mogul Kim Dotcom’s political campaign in New Zealand
- 5 Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
Jihadi John': MI5 may have identified Isis militant who killed David Haines but options limited
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: Police will be on high alert on Friday whatever the result
David Haines beheading: David Cameron says Britain will hunt down Isis 'monsters' shown in video murdering aid worker
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
Salmond accused of laughing off national debt with ‘what are they going to do: invade?’ joke
£40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project...
£350 - £425 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project Manager - 3 mont...
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Science teachers requ...
£18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...