On August 19, 1991, the GKChP, an emergency committee of hard-line communists, attempted a coup d’état to overthrow then Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and halt his reform plans.
Gorbachev was on holiday at a Black Sea resort when the group announced they were seizing power. Former Vice-President Gennady Yanayev was proclaimed acting president. Armored columns of tanks and military vehicles were moved into Moscow but many defected to Boris Yeltsin, Gorbachev’s nemesis and then president of the Russian Soviet Federative Social Republic, the RSFSR.
The coup collapsed in less than three days, and the plotters were later sent to jail. They were pardoned in February 1994.
The coup paved the way for the fall of the Soviet Union and brought Yeltsin to power. The former Communist party outcast remained president of Russia until 1999.