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Plotters' Goal: Turn Back Kremlin Clock : Coup: Russian prosecutors say the men who seized Gorbachev planned to use hard-line Stalinist methods.

January 22, 1992|ELIZABETH SHOGREN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

MOSCOW — The plotters of the August coup had made elaborate plans to turn back the clock to a time just before former Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev came to power and were prepared to launch massive Stalinist repressions, Russian prosecutors said Tuesday.

In the course of their 4 1/2-month investigation of the putsch, prosecutors said they found 100 documents describing the plotters' intention to re-create the Soviet society of 1984, when political prisoners were commonplace, the news media were controlled by the Communist Party and elections were inconsequential because there was only one name on the ballot for each job.

"Everything that was done from 1985 to 1991 would have been eliminated," Yevgeny K. Lisov, chief prosecutor in the case, told a press conference.

Those involved in the coup were ready to use "any tough measures, including repressive ones" and "Stalinist ones," Lisov said after the press conference. "Unfortunately, we have a lot of experience in this."

The plotters, he said, had planned to abolish the soviets, or elected councils, at the district, city, regional and republic level and jail progressive politicians. And until the end, the plotters--some of the country's most powerful men and Gorbachev's appointees--held out hope that the former Soviet president would reverse his position and join them.

Gorbachev had not voiced his support, Lisov said.

"But through his prolonged communication with the plotters, who were his close associates, some specific features of his nature gave them the basis to presume that sooner or later--in a day, two days or three days--they would be able to attract Gorbachev to their side," he said, adding: "Eventually, this factor was the decisive one that compelled them to try to seize power."

Despite Gorbachev's refusal to participate, the plotters went ahead with their plan, code-named "ABC," on the night of Aug. 17-18. Three days later, however, the coup was put down and its organizers arrested.

Twelve former Soviet officials were formally charged last week with conspiring to seize power in the putsch--a lesser charge than treason but one that still carries potential prison sentences of 15 years or even execution.

They include: the former prime minister, Valentin S. Pavlov; the former defense minister, Marshal Dmitri T. Yazov; the former vice president, Gennady I. Yanayev, and the former chairman of the KGB, Vladimir A. Kryuchkov. Besides the 12, three more officials have been accused in the putsch; they have not been charged or imprisoned because of health reasons.

The trial is not expected until at least this summer because defense attorneys need considerable time to study the 125 volumes of evidence that was prepared by the prosecutors.

Through extensive interrogations of the accused and documents found in the files of the KGB, the security and espionage agency, the prosecutors pieced together a picture of the repressive society those who plotted the coup wished to build.

In their nation, crime would have been controlled by sending patrols into all cities, towns and villages with the authority to shoot on sight suspected thieves and other criminals, Lisov said.

He stressed that the plotters did not meet secretly to work out their scheme but talked about it during the normal course of their work. "The fact that all of them were against the changes taking place in our country for a long time was no secret," Lisov said.

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