10 August 2011
Ambassador Jack Matlock’s letter to Russian TV channel NTV
Dear Ms. Diveeva,
Thank you for your invitation to participate in your studio discussion of the 1991 August Putsch. Unfortunately, I will not be able to come to Moscow for this event since I do not have time to make the arrangements for a visa and the travel arrangements. I will be on my wife's farm in Tennessee at that time, and there are no facilities there for a video conference.
I must say, however, that I am puzzled by the make-up of your panel. Certainly, it would seem, Mikhail Gorbachev should be included, and if he is not available, his assistant, Anatoly Chernyayev, who was with him at Foros at the time of the attempted coup. Also, are not at least one of the investigators who investigated the coup (Valentin Stepankov and Yevgeni Lisov) available? Or Alexander Bessmertnykh, who was USSR Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time and who was requested to join the GKChP but refused? Or Gavriil Popov who had information in advance about the planned coup and tried to convey it to Yeltsin?
Your panel seems to consist of one member of the coup group (Yazov) and several Yeltsin associates, two of whom broke with him in 1993 in clearly illegal fashion. Where are those who were close to Gorbachev or who can be presumed to have a less partisan view of the events at that time?
I was not personally in Moscow at that time, but received a warning from Popov several weeks before the coup attempt that one was being prepared. The warning was intended for Yeltsin, who was at that time visiting Washington. I have given an account of this incident in a recent interview in "ITOGI" (July 25, 2011), and also wrote about it in my book, "Autopsy on an Empire" (Russian translation: Smert' Imperii). Therefore, my views are on the record and I have little of significance to add, other than that I am convinced that Kryuchkov led a conspiracy that included Yazov, Pavlov and --probably--Lukyanov to replace Gorbachev.
In sum, I would not be willing to join a panel with the composition you propose unless it had at least one person who was loyal to Gorbachev and had direct knowledge of what happened. It is a curious fact that no such individual is included on your proposed panel.
August 5, 2011