Putin Helped Thwart 1991 KGB Coup. Personally Fought for Democracy

  • Enough with the lies of Putin as a "KGB thug"
  • Putin was a KGB analyst - a desk jockey
  • Later on he briefly headed the FSB (Russian FBI equivalent)
  • Meanwhile, in the turmoil of 1991 he sided with democrats...
  • ...took personal risk to defy KGB, Soviet hardliners
Tue, Dec 30, 2015
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MORE: History
Saved his mentor, the liberal Anatoly Sobchak from KGB arrest

This is an excerpt from an article that originally appeared at The Unz Review


The charges against Putin go from disingenuous to the dishonest.

The “KGB thug” and the “break-up” of the USSR accusations have been addressed in a variety of well-researched books and in-depth articles.

The documentation contradicts these allegations, including some charges that have been made by usually conservative voices.

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It is extremely curious that such ostensibly conservative publications as The New American, for example, find themselves parroting accusations first made by notorious leftwing publicists and, then, by international gay rights supporters.

On the contrary, various historians and researchers, including Professor Allen C. Lynch (in his excellent study, Vladimir Putin and Russian Statecraft, 2011), Professor Michael Stuermer (in his volume, Putin and the Rise of Russia, 2008), M. S. King (in The War Against Putin, 2014), Reagan ambassador to the USSR Jack Matlock, Reagan Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Paul Craig Roberts, former Congressman Ron Paul (his web site, www.ronpaulinstitute.org, contains numerous scholarly articles defending Putin), Reagan budget director David Stockman, and conservative writer William Lind—none of these men on the Left—have pointed out that those allegations have been ripped out of context and are largely untenable.

Professor Lynch reveals in his detailed study that the evidence for the “Putin KGB thug” allegation is very thin and lacks substantial basis.

First, Putin was never “head of the KGB,” as some writers mistakenly (and, often, maliciously) assert. That is simply a falsehood.

Rather, he served as a mid-level intelligence bureaucrat who sat at a desk in Dresden, East Germany, where he was stationed with his family for several years before returning to Leningrad.

His job was to analyze data, and he had no involvement in other activities. [Lynch, pp. 19-21] Contemporary American intelligence reports confirm this fact.

Indeed, this was one of the reasons that early on, during 1990 and 1991, Putin was considered a hopeful figure among the generation of younger Russians by American intelligence sources.

After the fall of Communism during the administration of Boris Yeltsin, he very briefly served at Yeltsin’s request as head of the FSB intelligence service. But the FSB is not the KGB.

Lynch treats in some detail the question of Putin’s supposed continued subservience to KGB ideology, with particular reference to the events surrounding the abortive Communist coup by the old hands at the KGB in August 1991.

Putin, by that time, had resigned his position in the KGB and was serving as deputy mayor to pro-American Leningrad mayor, Anatoly Sobchak, one of the fiercest critics of the KGB and the old Soviet system.

It was Putin who organized the local Leningrad militia to oppose the attempted KGB coup and protect Mayor Sobchak and the forces of democratic reform:

Putin played a key role in saving Leningrad for the democrats.

The coup, which lasted but three days, was carried out on August 19. That same day Mayor Sobchak arrived on a flight from Moscow.

The Leningrad KGB, which supported the coup, planned to arrest Sobchak immediately upon landing.

Putin got word of the plan and took decisive and preemptive action: He organized a handful of loyal troops and met Sobchak at the airport, driving the car right up to the plane’s exit ramp.

The KGB turned back, not wishing to risk an open confrontation with Sobchak’s armed entourage [led by Putin].” [Lynch, p. 34]

This signal failure in Russia’s second city doomed the attempted KGB coup and assured the final collapse of the Soviet system and eventual transition of Russia away from Communism.

It was Vladimir Putin, then, who was largely responsible for defeating and preventing the return of Communism in Russia.

It is very hard to see how a secret supporter of the KGB would take such action, if he were actually favoring the return of Communism.

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