The forgotten «mutiny» Grigory Pasko, journalist Если Вы хотите прочитать оригинал данной статьи на русском языке, нажмите сюда. In August in Russia they traditionally remember about the failed putsch of the year 1991 – the Kremlin overthrow by the GKChP, the attempt by a bunch of half-drunk persons to seize power in the country. However, few remember about the events that took place in those days on the periphery of Russia. For example, in Vladivostok. The essence of the event is such. On the night of 20-21 August of the year 1991, the submarine TOF B-855 of project 641 left its home port without authorization and went out to sea. Admirals Khvatov and Oleynik (photo from the author’s archive)
As soon as it was announced about the founding of the GKChP [the State Committee for the Extraordinary Situation: the name the putsch leaders in Moscow gave themselves—Trans.], the command of the fleet did not manifest its position in any way, the zampolits [deputy commanders for political affairs, responsible for propagating and ensuring compliance with the party line—Trans.] did not know what to say to the personnel, while former commander admiral Gennady Khvatov “went on sick leave”.Having downed a glass of vodka and having completely lost his mind, he somehow managed to get the partially dismantled boat out into the Ussuri Bay,it has to be said, that during that time the universal p***m had decomposed the mighty fleet once and for all.Having cobbled together something resembling a flag of St. Andrew [known as the Saltire in English, it was the ensign of the pre-revolutionary tsarist Russian navy, banned by the Soviets—Trans.] from a bedsheet and a military blanket- the crew raised it over the conning tower.When admiral Khvatov (Commander of the Pacific Fleet) discovered the rebel ship in the roads,he with the headquarters crew on a cutter came alongside the “ship of the revolution” and,having punched out the not yet completely sobered up claimant for the laurels of lieutenant Schmidt, quelled the uprising, but ordered not to raise a hubbub even after 10 daysLate at night lieutenant-captain Andrey Medvedev, senior assistant of the commander of the submarine of project 641, decided to express in whatever way possible his attitude towards the “putschists”.A month before this the boat had participated in a military-marine parade, had stood in a line of ships in the Amur Bay. In August it was placed under repair in the cove of Uliss, on the periphery of Vladivostok. From the boat they removed all armaments, fuel was sufficient to support viability and transfer to the base, which was found right nearby.Having found out from a news broadcast that the putschists intend to fly to Phoros and arrest Mikhail Gorbachev, senior assistant Andrey Medvedev proposed to the officers and warrant officers, who were found at this time on the boat, to go out to sea and declare on VHF that the crew supports president of Russia Boris Yeltsin, that the people’s path does not lie with the GKChP. To the sailors it seemed that only in such a way could they express their attitude towards the powers. Nobody thought about the consequences.“Telegrams were coming to us from [chairman of the KGB of the USSR] Kryuchkov with a demand to keep a close watch on those who stand up against the GKChP, including officers and commanders of units, who are against the putschists”, says former chief of a special department in the settlement of Tikhookeansky Nikolai Markovtsev. “But fleet counterintelligence chief Alexander Yegorkin passed on these telegrams without his own resolution – in other words, have a look and act the way you know how. Everybody occupied a wait-and-see position, and, as it turned out, acted correctly.”The command of the fleet ascribed Medvedev’s conduct to his drunkenness. “If one is to say that I was sober at that moment, this would be an untruth. But to the fighters I explained everything calmly, did not force anyone. On the shore they left the sailors, who wanted to go with us, but for them until “demob” was remaining a month, and a warrant officer, for whom in a week was supposed to take place a wedding. There was no order from my side”, says Medvedev.In so doing, the boat under the leadership of Medvedev without the help of tugboats got out of the narrow cove and remained unnoticed by all monitoring services. About the hijacking they found out only when the senior assistant got on the air.About his conduct he does not regret. “When all this fuss of the admirals on the cutters began, when ships surrounded us, a desire to shoot myself appeared in me. But the sailors restrained me – come on, we followed you, it was we who raised the flag, and you’re abandoning us, you can’t do that”, recalls Medvedev.To this day he supports democracy “although the ‘rightists’ in recent times are somehow not behaving themselves the right way, they can’t organize themselves. But no matter, better such a life than under the communists”.The rebel boat – B-855 (photo by Grigory Pasko)
KOROLYUKSergey Kravtsov (age 23 years, warrant officer, on the military fleet since the year 1985, petty officer of the crew of helmsmen-flagmen, boatswain) – the only one of the warrant officers of the crew, participating in the “demonstration”, and even this only because he turned out on that morning to be the duty officer for the ship standing in depot maintenance:Afterwards already the senior assistant told that in the crew until three o’clock at night they were watching television, but still nothing is clear. Seen enough, that does it! The GKChP is starting to rip and shred everything, while Yeltsin alone is standing up to all of them, already three divisions have gone over to his side, we too have got to come out in support: come out, say that we too are his lads, that there are heroes on the Pacific fleet too!… Then three or four ships came up, took us, took us in a semi-ring, closed off the outlet to the sea. One way remained – into the base, back. A cutter came up with first deputy commander A.Oleynik, then a torpedo recovery boat with the commander of the boat, the combrig [brigade commander] and chief of the political department, they gave us “Mayak” [a nationwide radio station—Trans.] to listen to, news of culture: what kind of premiere and where, what’s going on where… The NachPO [chief of the political department—Trans.] says: you see, everything is normal, if there were bedlam going on in the country, would they really be broadcasting about culture?”“How to say?.. Not very. A ‘repercussion’ there was, and in general…”“You did not attempt to refuse to carry out his order?”“For me – I can’t, after all, I was standing on duty, abandon ship. And indeed if I had stayed then on the dock and not gone with them – I don’t know, what would have been with them then, later on.”“You’ve got to understand, on the boat many mechanisms are not in commission, many are taken apart, the only helmsman is still young, little experience, and besides it was on kind of dark then… In general, without me even from the narrows to come out, maybe, they would not have been able. And besides, when it comes right down to it, they could have pulled off anything at all by the time they would have gotten to the open sea. And yet there were 14 young kids there! Their mommies are waiting for them at home, after all, five of them are to return home in a month…”Alexey Pesterev “How we «hijacked» a boat…”On the events of the 21st of August 1991 on PL B-855 of project 641A description of the events of 21.08.91 based on the materials of «Komsomolskaya Pravda»
The commander of the fleet (Khvatov, if I’m not mistaken) lay down in the military hospital immediately after the declaration of the GKChP, on the 19th. There was, some kind of uncertainty. The command of the fleet as if though was playing a waiting game with determining how to be. There was not enough information in the Far east, people felt themselves in isolation. Some officers this uncertainty tormented, and they desperately wanted to figure out the situation. Two days passed. The situation heated up. The fleet was found in combat readiness No.1 [was on the highest level of alert—Trans.].By this moment our boat was standing already several weeks (we arose after the appearance at the Parade on the Day of the Military-Marine Fleet…) standing in repair in cove of m.Uliss. To the best of my recollection, this was a mid-level overhaul. Naturally, all armaments and some of the equipment were taken off. Fuel was had only to maneuver in the cove and to get under its own steam to the mother brigade (the cove of b.Uliss).The senior assistant brought me up to speed on what was happening and gave for thinking over several minutes (until we left the dock). I look and see that all my comrades are at work and nobody has left watch for the shore and of course, not thinking for long, I agreed to go with them all.I myself was the commander of a squad of a mine-torpedo group and jointly commander of the 7th section. As always, the torpedoists carry out the role of the mooring group, so therefore I was also commander of the mooring group. And so there’s the “cards” I was “dealt”. We cast off quickly and without problems. Carefully started to move away from the dock. It began to get light.In the officers’ bay I found a clean white bedsheet and a blue blanket. Having torn stripes of the corresponding size from the blanket, I sewed them from both sides of the white rectangle, ‘crosswise’. A pretty flag it turned out to be!Inasmuch as sunrise had already begun, we raised our symbol of the freedom of Russia on the pilot-bridge flag tower. By this moment we had already come out of the cove, had picked up speed and were drawing up alongside the «Guardship». Of course, we did not forget that the fleet is found in elevated combat readiness. The senior assistant expected that at this our voyage would end and the time would come to “perform”. But no! We smoothly passed the exit from Vladivostok being “vigilantly” guarded by a PSKR [border patrol frigate] and a missile cutter and set course in the direction of the “caravan routes” of the merchant fleet.As soon as Medvedev set foot on shore, they immediately sat him in a car of the commandant’s office and drove him off “in an unknown direction”. All of us they lined up on the dock, the commander, although angry, was satisfied, thanked us for having succeeded in “not burying” the boat and that apparently not for nothing had he taught us everything, since we in a quantity of 14 people were able to do something like this… Then Khvatov himself came up, yelled for a bit, while we, thinking that we’ve got nothing to lose already, in our youth and our impudence said something rude to him, like, you should have spent less time hiding in military hospitals and more on conducting clarificational work among the personnel and clearly expressing your own position (and the position of the fleet) with respect to what has happened.Then there was an investigation. They continued to interrogate Medvedev at the garrison guardhouse. To us, on the other hand, they drove up and called us in one by one into the office. They wanted to get away from the political theme and stick us for attempting to hijack the boat to Japan… If this hadn’t been happening with me, then everything, it would seem, was like in an artistic cinema, but this way, even I came to believe in the repressive, and absolutely idiotic, methods of conducting an investigation in our country. Capt. 3 grade Cherepkov helped us out then. To the best of my knowledge, this is specifically he who took upon himself the courage to head the “rebel” detachments of the Pacific Fleet.Now, when the defenders of the «White house» in Moscow are being called patriots and saviours of the Fatherland, from each of the members of the crew of the rebel Vladivostok submarine the admirals are taking explanatories for their disgusting, criminal behavior and complete and total incomprehension of the situation: how could you think, they say to them, that the command of the fleet would carry out the orders of the GKChP? We had declared about our complete neutrality, after all! Initiative is punishable. And, it means, – one can easily call criminals the entire crew of the submarine, and the whole body of atomic submarines on Kamchatka, and the dozens of other military units who had declared in the days of the overthrow about their support for the lawful government and who had amalgamated into united far-eastern armed forces in defense of democracy under the command of captain first grade V. I. Cherepkov. Only we won’t forget that conquests today and tomorrow (and they certainly will be!) are already prepared, paid for by the fates of many people, such as the lieutenant-captain, Medvedev. Just in the past year and just in the Far East on the altar of the struggle for a new army have discarded their epaulets zampolit of the ship from Kamchatka lieutenant-captain Pyotr Ivanov, zampolit of the atomic submarine from Primorye captain third grade Sergey Ivanshchenko, commander of a helicopter crew captain Sergey Ryzhov, politworker senior lieutenant Alexey Cherevko. They did not amass for themselves during the time of military service either money or glory, they did not have any idea about what could happen in the current August.They had only honor.