WASHINGTON, Aug. 20, 1991 (UPI) - The first words of the coup in the Soviet Union, which ousted President Mikhail Gorbachev, may have come over a fax machine in an empty office late Sunday night. While much of Washington slept or prepared to sleep at the end of the weekend, the fax machine in the Washington office of The Center for Democracy was silently screaming the alert: ''It is Military Coup. Tanks are everywhere.''
That was the first message faxed to the center's director, Allen Weinstein, timed at 10:54 p.m. EDT from an official of Russian President Boris Yeltsin's government. First news reports appeared about 11:30 p.m. Sunday.
Weinstein said in a brief telephone interview that he found the faxed messages when he entered the office at 7:30 a.m. Monday.
The faxes were still arriving Tuesday morning, Weinstein said.
''They (Soviet leaders) tried to shut down the faxes, but we're still getting them,'' Weinstein said, adding that they come in one at a time or in batches and directly from Moscow.
Following are the verbatim texts of the faxes received at The Center for Democracy Sunday night and Monday morning, including misspellings: 11:05 p.m.: Tanks are around the Council. BY (Boris Yeltsin) denounces the coup. Ukrain and other republic are against. Everybody go on strike. BY tried to contact Gorbi. And failed.
8:46 a.m. Monday: People behind barricades around the Council. Armor cars were blocked by the crowd on the bridge. Tanks departed. However there are rumors that they want to force into the building. Our security guards are up in arms with Kalashinkovs. Thousands of people a round. BY made an address to the people standing on a tank. We have been Xroksing the decree of BY in hundreds and have been throwing copies into windows. People shouting More, More. we are waiting, waiting and waiting...
11:14 a.m.: Did Mr. Bush make any comments upon the situation in this country(?). If he did, make it known by all means of communication, make it known to the people of this country.
The Russian Government has NO ways to address the people. All radio stations are under control.
The following is BY's address to the Army. Submit it to USIA. Broadcast it over the country. May be ''Voice of America.''
Do it! Urgent!