The head of the Emergency Committee that seized power in last year's abortive Soviet coup said in an interview published Saturday that history would prove the plotters right.
Gennady Yanayev, a former Soviet vice president now awaiting trial for his role in the August 1991 putsch, told the former Communist Party newspaper Pravda he lost everything in the bungled operation."I have lost not only my freedom, I may lose my life. I have lost the most important thing - a country I could be proud of, in spite of everything. I lost Russia. And that is bitter and painful for me," he said.
In an apparent reference to Russia's economic plight, he said: "I am sad and worried for the people of the country where a kind of masochistic, destructive process is continuing and gathering strength."
Yanayev headed the eight-man Emergency Committee that briefly toppled Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev from power but was defeated by popular resistance led by Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
He repeated earlier assertions that he and his fellow-conspirators acted to halt the break-up of the Soviet state.
"I am sure that history will justify us. The truth has not died. . . . Sooner or later the spirit of history will knock at people's hearts," he said.
The coup's failure actually accelerated the break-up of the Soviet Union, which collapsed four months later.
Yanayev said the only guilt he felt stemmed from his failure to avert the general impoverishment of the state and its disintegration.
He said the Emergency Committee leaders were being "de-mon-ized" by Russia's current leadership and he was under no illusions about the likely outcome of their eventual trial.
"Political reprisals - under the formal cover of criminal law - are being carried out against those who had the honor and courage to say: `Enough! We will not let the will of the people be violated again, we will not allow the destruction of a country with 1,000 years of history,' " he said.