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A Time of Revolution in Moscow, Part II

Date: 11/03/2021

Author: Kent Moors, Ph.D.


In the last edition of the Classified Intelligence Brief Spy Tales series, I introduced you to what my wife Marina was writing from Moscow during the insurrection in early October, 1993. Those were some of the early entries in her syndicated column Moscow Diary that ran for several years in the US and Europe.

As with all of Marina’s copy, she would write and I would edit, usually (as in this case) from different locations. I have also added some photographs to the original columns.

We are picking up the story early in the morning of Saturday, October 2, 1993.

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Moscow Diary

Diary Entry for Saturday, October 2, 1993, 12:50 a.m.: “A Policeman Lost in History”

He has been standing in the on again, off again, freezing rain for hours.

At 34, Anatoly (who prefers not to give me his family name) has been a member of the Moscow militia (local internal police) for seven years. An army veteran, divorced with a 3-year-old child, he has seen disturbances in the streets before.

Now after midnight, he stands motionless facing the Russian parliament building and doesn’t like it. His normal assignment spans the Leninsky District and is usually traffic management. These days, that is not an easy task.

We had begun a conversation a few minutes ago, more to break his monotony and heightened by my curiosity. Anatoly talks about the changes in his native city, the rise in crime and decreasing tolerance of Moscow drivers. But it is the building before him that rivets his attention. There is apprehension in his eyes.

“I am generally afraid of what will be done here and what it will mean for the future,” he says in a quiet voice.

He notes that most detachments of the militia have been put on double rotation. That means they, like the rump legislature holding out in the so-called White House, have had little sleep. And there are the uneasy presence of crack spetsnaz airborne and Interior Ministry troops among the several thousand ringing the building and on side streets. Anatoly observes that actions to come will not be directed by the militia.

“We no longer control what happens in our own city. The security of Moscow is our responsibility; each member of the militia takes an oath for this. But it is the military who will decide what goes on here. I will do what I am ordered to do, but one can also be ashamed that is has come to this.”

Earlier the previous evening, shortly before I arrived, Anatoly and his detachment forcibly pushed back demonstrators from the makeshift barricade on the Tchaikovsky ulitsa (street) side of Freedom Square in front of the White House. There were injuries on both sides. The crowd prevented ambulances from arriving, and a militia car was set on fire. He was off duty for a few hours and then was sent back on the line.

The square’s name has a curious and painful ring to it. Named for the defiance Boris Yeltsin and a crowd displayed against the Red Army only two years earlier, it now stands for very different things depending on what side of the barricades protestors find themselves.

Anatoly recalls an earlier experience with blood in the street arising from contests of local politicians. He was put on round-the-clock duty in his home district after this year’s May Day protests. Then, one militia man died and more than a hundred on both sides were injured. This occurred, he laments, alongside the famous statue of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin towering above Leninsky Prospekt.

I know this well. It is located not far from my apartment; I would drive by it daily.

Statue of Yuri Gagarin, Leninsky Prospekt, Moscow photo: atlasobscura.com

“Every day I would pass that monument. It gave me great pride to know that we had a hero like this. Now, it will be remembered only for a dark place in our memory.”

Anatoly hopes that the building he watches now, where an earlier coup was put down and contemporary Russia was born, will not suffer the same fate.

The rain worsens. Anatoly observes that the crowd is dwindling.

He asks me where I live. I tell him I am a Muscovite (which has a certain sting to it these days), but that I now live most of the year in America.

His face changes; he cannot believe it. I show him my driver’s license and green card. He looks beyond me, toward the parliament building, and asks, “Does this happen in your American city?”

“No,” I answer, “it doesn’t.”

Now, I am also looking away, to the spire of the old Hotel Ukraina across the river. I no longer can look him in the eye.

This conversation is over.


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Diary Entry for Sunday, October 3, 1993: “A Maelstrom”

Sunday starts as a beautiful day in Moscow, with a warming sun and clear skies. I felt relieved. Matters are bound to improve with such a sign from the elements. Unfortunately, some had other ideas.

The morning had been filled with ultimatums from both sides of the political divide, with the Yeltsin government renewing its Monday night deadline for parliamentary rebels to vacate the Russian White House.

A friend [an editorial note from Kent: this is “Sergei” of whom I have written on several occasions in this Spy Tale series] comes by about 1 p.m. He tells me a demonstration was forming on Oktabrskaya Square, a favorite site for those opposing Yeltsin. I grab a small handheld tape recorder, my bag, and we leave.

Upon arrival, I watch protestors routing young, poorly armed militiamen. The demonstrators pass over Krimsky Bridge, which is littered with burning and otherwise damaged cars.

We drive toward Parliament Square, park some distance away, and make it to the roof of a nearby multi-story building off Kompozitorskaya ulitsa. From our vantage point, we overlook the square, the adjoining city administration building, and the beginning of the city’s old Arbat section.

From the rooftop, I have a panoramic view of what is unfolding. I can see there are several additional crowds coming, some from Freedom Square in front of the parliament, others massing from Arbat. It is not possible to determine if there is any coordination but the current assembly of some 5,000 in front of the city building would be quickly expanding.

Off to the east, a separate crowd extending from those gathering in Arbat has already started moving north intersecting with the inner ring highway. They appear to have at least two army personnel carriers (APCs), three trucks and two Internal Ministry buses (identified by blue side markings) in their control.

Another crowd is attempting to seal off access to the city administration building from the east, although several side streets with access to the area are still open.

A water cannon and three-deep lines of Moscow militia can be clearly seen in front of the US Embassy compound. The embassy grounds are located on Tchaikovsky ulitsa adjoining Freedom Square and the parliament building on the northeast side.

Russian White House, Freedom Square, and the US Embassy, October 1993 photo: adst.com

About ninety minutes ago, fully armed regular army troops began massing in Manezh Square and sealed off the main entrance to Red Square and the Kremlin. However, traffic was continuing through Manezh when I earlier passed through it.

The detachments of militia charged with security of the government center withdrew to the other side of Revolution Square, have assumed positions in front of the Hotel National and up to the beginning of Tverskaya (formerly Gorky) ulitsa.

Hotel Rossiya, which is located on the Moscow River at the southwest corner of the Kremlin, has been closed by the militia.

My friend leaves to make some phone calls. Communications seem to be unaffected at this point, although it is becoming more difficult than normal to make calls outside the central city exchanges.

Upon returning he advises that sources at the location report within the past hour that a line of tanks and heavily armored APCs were seen in the vicinity of Vnukovo Airport, southwest of the city proper. They are moving toward the center of town.

I then make the dumbest decision of my life. Against the strong admonishments from my friend, I decide to go down and talk to some of the people protesting below. Big, stupid mistake.

The situation is deteriorating as I arrive. A portion of the increasing crowd has decided to attack the city administration building, using a captured vehicle to break into the main floor and take control of the lobby.

Moscow City Administration Building after attack, October 3, 1993 photo: alamy.com

Shots are ringing as militia and armed protestors exchange fire. The crowd is now panicking and there are casualties falling in the street.

Confrontation near the City Administration Building, October 3, 1993 photo: imrussia.org

The people around me scatter as a new salvo of shots is heard. It is then that I am pushed to the ground and a militia shield is placed over me. Somebody seems to be laying on the shield. When I get up, I see that my friend [an editorial note from Kent: thank you Sergei!] is protecting me. People are lying nearby in the street, bloody, some not moving.

He has probably saved my life. He stares at me with a “you silly woman” look and quickly escorts me to the ground floor of the building where we had our rooftop vista.

Spectators suddenly had found themselves in the middle of a battle. Some are caught in the staccato crossfire.

There is a canteen on the first floor of the building. A number of the injured are being taken there. I talk very briefly to two of them, both apparently injured while watching rather than participating.

One, a woman in her 60s, had an arm injury she claims was inflicted by the militia trying to open a corridor for reinforcements. The other, a student in his 20s, had a head injury resulting from being struck by a riot shield in the possession of someone in the crowd. Both support the anti-Yeltsin forces.

Outside, there is a continuing and pronounced surrealism unfolding, with participants and onlookers composing a moving human mosaic.

Arrangements are being made to transport the seriously injured to area medical facilities using whatever streets are still open. I call the director of my clinic. They have two ambulances. The clinic director Tatiana Olevesova and I have known each other since I was a child. She and my mother had been in the same class at medical school.

She agrees to send the vehicles and I end up riding in one of them to the clinic. So will begin 48 hours that will permanently change my life.

******************************************************************************

Next time, we pick up with a “A Little Girl and a Descent into Hell.”

Dr. Kent Moors


This is an installment of Classified Intelligence Brief, your guide to what’s really happening behind the headlines… and how to profit from it. Dr. Kent Moors served the United States for 30 years as one of the most highly decorated intelligence operatives alive today (including THREE Presidential commendations).

After moving through the inner circles of royalty, oligarchs, billionaires, and the uber-rich, he discovered some of the most important secrets regarding finance, geo-politics, and business. As a result, he built one of the most impressive rolodexes in the world. His insights and network of contacts took him from a Vietnam veteran to becoming one of the globe’s most sought after consultants, with clients including six of the largest energy companies and the United States government.

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