Politics of Armageddon: Preparations For A Crackdown D+20 (29 July, 1987)

By 2100 hours Moscow time, seventy-five percent of the Politburo’s members were either preparing to depart from Moscow or had already left. Their collective task was to observe events and conditions in whichever theater of operations for eight hours. Afterwards, they would return to Moscow and report their findings to the General Secretary and the Politburo. Some of the full and junior members were heading west to inspect different areas of the Western TVD while other groups of their comrades would wind up north in the Kola Peninsula region of south in Bulgaria or the Black Sea region. A few capable members were going to Gorkii to determine how well rescue and relief operations were going and make certain the emergency services personnel and soldiers there received whatever they needed. Grigori Romanov’s reminder of the sacrifices made by Politburo members in the Great Patriotic War weighed heavily in the minds and hearts of the current membership. This war would eventually conclude, as all wars do. At that time, history was fated to judge the actions taken by the Soviet Politburo in July of 1987 while their country fought for its life. No man wanted to be on the wrong side of history and responded to Romanov’s call with patriotic zeal.

Meanwhile, back in Moscow preparations were underway by the KGB for an early morning operation, the likes of which had not been seen in the Soviet capital since the days of Beria. At 0100 hours the next morning, KGB security troops and other personnel would fan out around the capital with arrest orders for almost fifty known or suspected activists, pro-democracy supporters, Gorbachev supporters not picked up in the crackdown following the spring coup, and other men and women considered to be enemies of the state to one degree or another. The plan to pick these people up was put together by KGB Chairman Viktor Chebrikov and his senior deputies. General Secretary Romanov was apprised of the planned operation and gave his consent earlier in the evening.

The purpose of the operation was to bring into custody the people most likely to challenge the authority of Romanov and his government in the aftermath of the Gorkii bombing. The mood in Moscow, as well as the rest of the Soviet Union was comparable to the later stages of a hangover. Collectively, the mindset of Soviet society was becoming more focused with each passing hour. The initial panic brought on by the limited exchange of nuclear weapons and the destruction of Gorkii, and the fear of the unknown that replaced it, was dissipating rapidly now. Soon the opposition would rally and begin organizing. Chebrikov recognized the dangers of allowing this to happen and was intent on neutralizing a potential rebellion before it moved beyond the embryonic stage.

The list of individuals marked for arrest was long and distinguished. No fewer than twenty-one current or former members of the Soviet government were prominently headlined at the top of the list. One man was even a former Politburo member and in the eyes of Chebrikov, now the most dangerous opponent to Romanov’s government.

The man was Boris Yeltsin, and at the direct order of the KGB Chairman, he would be the first one taken into custody in the early hours of 30 July, 1987.


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