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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

5 Years On, No Money to Mark Coup Attempt

It has been five years since the tumultuous events of August 1991 that toppled the old Soviet system and brought in a new era for Russia.


But the celebration of the fifth anniversary of the attempted coup is receiving little attention from the new government organs that replaced the old Soviet ones.


Vivat Rossia! -- a four-day commemoration of the 1991 putsch -- will take place in Moscow, beginning Monday, without the financial help or participation of city or federal authorities, the event's organizers said Friday.


Konstantin Truyevtsev, chairman of the Vivat Rossia! organizing committee and president of the Defenders of Freedom Foundation, explained that preparations for the anniversary were complicated by the fact that until six weeks ago, it was unclear whether or not there would be any celebration at all.


In Truyevtsev's opinion, it all hinged on the outcome of Russia's presidential elections.


"I'm sure that if Zyuganov had won, there would have been no celebration whatsoever," Truyevtsev said at a press conference.


Organizers presented the official program of events, which will include a meeting of the 1991 defenders of the White House on the bridge nearby, Monday at 5:30 p.m.; memorial services at Vagankovskoye cemetery for the three people who died during the coup, Wednesday at 10 a.m.; a Russian flag-raising ceremony at the White House, Thursday at noon; and a rock concert featuring Russian and foreign musicians on Vasilyevsky Slope, Thursday evening.


With the absence of financial assistance and sponsorship, the entire four-day proWith very little time left for planning, some members of the organizing committee expressed concern about the lack of official support. Despite the fact that the committee formally includes several government officials, including presidential chief of staff Anatoly Chubais, it has not yet solved the problem of building a stage on the Vasilyevsky Slope behind Red Square or of providing the electricity needed to pull off the concert.


Miroshnik bitterly called the officials on the committee "dead souls" who smile and nod but avoid his phone calls and deliberately take vacations when they are most needed.


Other members of the committee, however, were not as radical in their judgments. Truyevtsev said it is due only to Chubais' personal request that the committee managed to obtain permission to use Vasilyevsky Slope.


Order on Moscow's streets during the celebrations will be maintained mostly by Otryad Rossia, a group of volunteers formed in 1991. Vladimir Krainik, the organization's council chairman and a deputy chairman of Vivat Rossiya!, said, "We don't need any money anyway. Our members have been patrolling Moscow streets ever since the coup."


Krainik, however, said Russian businessmen could have done more to help the organizers. "It is because of people like us [that] they now can enjoy freedom and prosperity," he said.


Truyevtsev said he was told by some businessmen that they all moved their capital to the West before the elections, and it is still too difficult to get the money back to sponsor the celebrations.


It is still unclear whether the main hero of the August 1991 coup attempt, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, will participate in this year's celebrations. Nevertheless, Truyevtsev hinted, "We don't know yet, but we do expect some nice surprises."