I have lived through two of them. The first time was in Serbia. Belgrade. February 1993. Mighty knock in the door of my room at hotel “Majestik” at 4a.m. Paratrooper-Sergeant picks me up. We are starting our voyage to Serbian Republic of Kninskaya Krajina, which Croatian regime wants to conquer. I am following sergeant downstairs. It is freezy night. On the neighboring street we enter sleepy old bus, full of peasants, seems to me. Our way is going to be long and dangerous through Balkans. We will follow narrow corridor through Bosnia to Banja Luka and then through Herzegovina to Knin, the capital of Kninskaya Krajina.
As we have reached Serbian border with Bosnia “peasants” preparing their passports and various permissions. I am taking out my permission, (“Dozvola” in Serbian”) to enter Kninskaja Krajina, signed by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Republic. I met him Friday in Belgrade. Actually what I carry is “mandat” asking all the local Serbian officials to help me as they can. “Hide it!” says young lad seating next to me. “Yesterday Kninskaja Krajina experienced a coup d’etat. Minister of Interior Milan Martic issued the orders to arrest group of ministers, Minister of Foreign Affairs among them. If you don’t want to be arrested yourself don’t show your “mandat” to anybody. Tore it!”
Luckily, Serbian border guards are friendly with “peasant” population of the bus. Nobody asking us about papers. After quarter of an hour old bus is continuing its way in the snow. My “peasants” move, laugh and step by step transforming themselves into soldiers. Lad who have announced me coup d’etat is assembling Thompson machine-gun, extracting parts of it from his bag. In half-an-hour the bus is transformed into a travelling combat unit armed to the teeth. Even I, foreigner, is owner of a Yugoslavian made pistol, Browning type, present from military commander of Wogosca district near Sarajevo, souvenir of my Bosnia war in 1992. Now I am going to fight as a volunteer in Kninskaja Krajina. Milan Martic was then minister of Interior. President of Republic was at that time KhadjicÑex-dentist. I tore “Dozvola.” It was better to travel without any paper…
Today, the State of Kninskaja Krajina doesn’t exist anymore, invaded by the Croatian Army. All my fellow travellers soldiers are dead.
September 21, 1993. Moscow. 8p.m. On the state television President Yeltsin announcing his decree #1400. Parliament is dissolved. At 8.20 I am taking taxi heading to the headquarters of newspaper “Dyen” on Tsvetnoi Boulevard. At 9p.m. eleven of us (my friend captain Schurigin among) are debarking from two cars in front of Russian “White House,” the House of Soviets. We are volunteers to defend the House of Soviets from the troops of President.
The People’s Deputies are scared to death. Security measures at entrances of the White House are draconian. We are signing up our names on the list of volunteers. We eleven are on the very first list of volunteers. After almost one hour we are finally admitted into the House of Soviets. Two generals, one of them Tarasov, a People’s Deputy, conducting me and another volunteer to our assigned post at the principal entrance #1, facing the River Moskva. There are two militiamen already in place plus two of us, making four defenders of entrance. After brief interrogation by generals (Did you served in the Army? Have you military grade?) it was me who was appointed as commander of the post. As generals find out that I have wide and recent military experience: five wars in 1991 – 1993.
“Will you give us a guns?” asked I.
“Yes, we will,” said general Tarasov.
“When it’s gonna start…” said general Tarasov. “The ammunition room is next to you.”
And he pointed at ammunition room guarded by militiaman. I wasn’t in agreement. Through glass doors of entrance #1 one could see the first lines of special militiaÑmen of Yeltsin, dangerously close, closer than our own ammunition room.
About midnight I went to the 16th floor to sign a Declaration of Support to the rebel Supreme Soviet of Russia on behalf of parties and organizations. My signature was seventh, just after General Titov’s of National Salvation Front. My National-Bolshevik’s Party, just born on September 8, 1993, was baptized that night.
The next few nights I have spent in headquarters of General Achalov, who was appointed as the Deputy Minister of Defense of rebel government. I have witnessed whole chain of events leading to the tragedy of October 3rd and 4th. I saw immobility, lack of initiative of Achalov, deficiency of energy of Chief of State Security Committee Barannikov (former Yeltsin head of KGB), and simple stupidity of their entourage. President #2, General Rutskoi, himself gave example of indecision. One day he ordered to give us weapons; in a few days he ordered to collect them; and in few more days gave order to re-distribute them. So I learn how not to do coup d’etat. Already on September 24th it was clear to me that Rutskoi and his men are too small for the job of coup d’etat. Nevertherless I have supported them to the end and only a miracle saved me from bullet and death on asphalt near the entrance of Technical Center of Ostankino in the evening of October 3rd. Television talked about me been wounded and dead. But I survived and so I will live to see third coup d’etat.
It will be mine.
This article first appeared in the zero issue of The eXile in February 1997.
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