The White House: Let's Stay in Touch

How Yeltsin persuaded George Bush to speak out strongly -- if a bit belatedly -- against the plotters

George Bush realized he might be inadvertently backing the wrong horse in the Soviet power struggle when the text of a one-page letter from Boris Yeltsin reached him as he flew from Maine to Washington aboard Air Force One. Bravely resisting the coup against long odds, Yeltsin implored Bush to bring "the attention of the world and the United Nations" to bear on Moscow and "demand the restoration" of President Mikhail Gorbachev. Yeltsin added what for Bush are magic words, asking for "operational contacts." Translation: "Give me a call."

Yeltsin penned his plea after Bush had delivered his first tentative remarks...

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