MOSCOW (AP) — The world held its breath 30 years ago when a group of top Communist officials ousted Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and flooded Moscow with tanks. But instead of bringing a rollback of liberal reforms and a return to Cold War confrontations, the August 1991 coup collapsed in just three days and precipitated the breakup of the Soviet Union a few months later. Thousands of people opposed to the coup gathered around the government building for the Russian Federation. The republic’s leader, Boris Yeltsin. Yeltsin, played a key role in defeating the coup. When Gorbachev flew back to Moscow after the coup’s defeat, he saw his power dwindle and Yeltsin calling the shots.
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