Ten years ago, in October 1993, parliament was the scene of tumultuous events in the center of Moscow. PRAVDA.Ru has assembled this selection of experiences from those witnessing historic days
The decree of Russian President Boris Yeltsin on breaking up the Supreme Council and the People's Deputies Congress was a violation of the Constitution, the Supreme Council Praesidium calling it a coup d'etat.
Thousands of Muscovites gathered to defend the House of Councils. Alexander Rutskoy was sworn in as president. The Constitutional Court confirmed the legitimacy of Yeltsin's removal from office. Yeltsin's security service blocked the car fleet of the Supreme Council, the whole of the Supreme Council building was disconnected from government and intercity communication. Television was guarded by Interior Minister Viktor Yerin and the Special Police Unit. A continuous meeting was held near the building of the House of Councils, assembling Moscow people. Soviet authorities in Russian regions and cities declared they did not recognize the decree issued by Boris Yeltsin and said it would have no effect on their territories. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin supported the Yeltsin coup. A group of Supreme Council deputies was detained when they attempted to enter the television center.
Although we are dying, we will be still living
Brothers, when you read these lines we will be probably already be dead. Our bodies will burn in this building. We are appealing to those who have managed to survive in this bloody slaughter. We loved Russia and wanted order defined by God to come to the country. This is the order when all people have equal rights and responsibilities; nobody is allowed to break the law no matter what the position of a man is.
We have been too naпve; we have been punished for being so credulous, we are being executed by shooting for this and will be finally betrayed. We have been just pawns in somebody's well thought-out game. But our spirits are not crushed. Yes, we are afraid of death. However, we are supported and encouraged by someone invisible: "The blood will purify your souls and Satan will not reach it. Once you die you will be much stronger than those still remaining alive."
In the last minutes of our life we address the people of Russia. Remember these days; do not look aside when you see our dead bodies being demonstrated on TV. Remember everything and do not let others lead you to the same traps.
Forgive us, and we forgive those who have been sent to kill us. They are not to be blamed for it. But we do not forgive the demoniac gang that has become a burden for Russia. Do not let them trample down the Great Orthodox belief and Russia. Our souls remain with you. Russia is unconquerable.
A House of Councils defender
October 4, 1993
There were no captives
When the tanks started attacking the House of Councils, over 100 unarmed people were sheltered in the basement. Then the military came and took us out of the basement; then they examined us, told us to lie face downwards in the lobby. We put the wounded on stretchers and took them out of the building. I noticed that the stretchers were taken to a room where the security were. The military were firing at the ceiling. There were priests among us; they stood up and shouted the military not to shoot. Soon, the shooting stopped.
In silence I heard a doctor saying that severely wounded people needed blood for transfusion. The doctor pointed at the door of the room where the security were. Then muffled shots sounded from behind that door, as it seemed to me. I crawled toward that door and hoped to reach the room unnoticed in the darkness. Then somebody unexpectedly kicked me in the face and asked where I was going. I said I wanted to be a donor. I was still crawling when I felt that the barrel of a gun was set against my neck. I said I wanted to find the toilet. The military pushed me aside and walked ahead of me. We entered a corridor with a great number of doors on both sides; then we found the door to the toilet.
When I entered the toilet I saw piles of bodies. On the top of the pile were those people whom we had taken out of the basement some time before. The blood on the floor of the toilet reached my ankle. When I left the toilet I saw the lights of cigarettes of people standing at the end of the corridor. I was saved just by miracle because I bent on my knees and crawled. The people started firing behind me. I cut my hands on the glass of the broken doors, but still managed to reach the lobby. There I stayed and the military were no longer looking for me. In about an hour, they started taking the dead bodies out.
The end of September - ten days of Russian freedom and ten days of darkness, dampness and draughts
October 4, the execution of Russian people, slaughter and killing, but the sky is still clear and the sun is warm. God, what sides are you on? In three days, there was a day when a friend of mine was to be buried. The yellow maple leaves were like paper flowers on his grave. And the blue sky is welcome, open for sainted souls. God was on our side! The sunny October meant God's sorrow for the killed Russian people.
In the course of the days, the soul of the city was gradually back to its previous order of living. In a week after the shooting of the opposition, I saw an inscription in chalk on a concrete wall near one of the metro stations: They won't kill us! The same day I heard some people speaking about the winners as about fascists. Finally, people understood the main issue of the problem. That could not be explained as the influence of the opposition propaganda as all Russian newspapers were closed at that period.
During the whole period of the siege near the House of Councils, people were speaking harsh and straightforward; the people named thieves and boors by their real names. They said that criminals raped the fatherland. Those were the people who were killed. But those who still remained alive at gun point were driven to the radiant future of capitalism.
Alexander Sintsov, The Blessed Days
Testimony of Father Leonid, one of the priests who were near the House of Councils
On October 3, I felt it was my duty to come to the place where Russians were fighting against Russians. When I came there, the House of Councils already had a church inside the building; Father Alexey and Father Nikon from the Saint Danil monastery and others were hearing confessions, giving communion and baptizing.
When the fight broke out on October 4, the morning service was approaching its end on the fifth floor of the House of Councils building. I was crying as I had to see how Russians were fighting against Russians.
The clergymen took the censers and walked along the corridors for several hours; they were singing prayers. Then, during a pause in the fighting, I went out of the building, walked around the metal machines and headed toward the former building of the House of Councils waiting room where I heard confessions a day before. I heard the confession of a wounded man still clinging to life. He had a bullet in the head.
The confession developed into ravings of a dying man. The man said: "This house (he meant the House of Councils) is my white alley. The alley was white, not black. This is my Russia, love it." And then he died. My thoughts were mournful.
About 5.00 p.m. we were taken out through the window. I walked along Devyatinsky Side Street. Suddenly the shooting of machine-guns sounded. I concealed myself behind an advertising pillar and saw other clergymen nearby. They told me that a Russian flag still remained on the Gorbaty Most (Bent Bridge). One of the clergymen wanted to go and take the flag, but he was killed en route.
I am not brave at all, but I stood up and headed toward the bridge. The bullets were whining by and I saw an armored vehicle pass by. I was singing prayers while climbing over barricades. There were lots of mutilated dead bodies. I approached the flag. The sound of bullets directed against you is awful and scary when you hear it. I took the imperial flag and started my way back. The bullets hit a concrete pillar and the stone dust blinded me for a while.
While we were waiting for the shooting to calm down, my friends told me that one of the priests, Father Viktor, took out a cross and ascended the stairs of the embankment toward the approaching tanks. When the priest suddenly fell, other people could see a halo around his head bent to the chest.
Vladimir Vinogradov tells that during the events in the House of Councils he didn't see anyone being drunk. "It is not ruled out that there might be provokers on each side of the barricade. There is hardly an authority so strong that would be able to conduct an investigation to find out who was the first to shoot. But it is for sure that God saw and history will tell us who were guilty of the blood shed by Russians in the fight against Russians."
Based on accounts in the newspapers Den, Soglasie, My i Vremya, Literaturnaya Gazeta, Zavtra.