Three Days That Shook The World

Hard-line Soviet party and military leaders launched their abortive power grab as a preemptive strike to protect their own jobs and influence. Their immediate aim was to prevent Russian President Boris Yeltsin and leaders of eight other republics from signing a treaty on Aug. 20 to set up a looser federation--thus shifting to the republics much of the power and resources controlled by the central government apparatchiks.

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