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Gorbachev returns to Moscow

By
JAMES ROSEN

MOSCOW -- President Mikhail Gorbachev returned to Moscow early Thursday after the collapse of a coup against him led by the highest members of his government.NEWLN: more

Gorbachev, accompanied by Russian Prime Minister Ivan Silaev and Vice President Alexander Rutskoy, arrived at Moscow's Vnukuvo Airport shortly after 2 a.m.

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Gorbachev's return to the Soviet capital capped a tumultuous three days in which he was seized by KGB agents and held in isolation at his Black Sea country house on the Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.NEWLN: more

The attempt to overthrow Gorbachev crumbled Wednesday when the Soviet Defense Ministry pulled its troops and tanks out of Moscow and the coup leaders reportedly fled the capital.

Before leaving the Crimea for his trip back to Moscow, Gorbachev said he was in good health and thanked Boris Yeltsin for his 'resistance' to the coup in Gorbachev's first contact with the outside world since he was seized in theoverthrow bid.

Gorbachev issued a statement saying he was 'in complete control of the situation,' the official Tass news agency said.

Gorbachev said he would sign decrees dismissing the coup leaders from their state posts immediately after returning to Moscow, reports said.

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Soviet television quoted Gorbachev as vowing that 'the adventurists will bear full responsibilty' for the coup attempt that ended scarcely 60 hours after it began early Monday.

Influential Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev earlier told his Central Asian republic in televised remarks that Gorbachev had condemned 'the right-wing military coup' during a telephone conversation between the two men.

Gorbachev said that 30 KGB agents had kept him in complete isolation, and he asked Nazarbayev for a detailed description of each coup leader's role in the aborted overthrow attempt.

When his ouster was announced Monday, the hard-line State of Emergency Committee that took over the Soviet government said Gorbachev was stepping aside for health reasons. On Wednesday Gorbachev reported that he was feeling well, Nazarbayev said.

As the two men spoke, Nazarbayev said, Gorbachev informed him that four of the coup leaders, including KGB Chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov and Defense Minister Dmitry Yazov, were sitting in the reception room of his summer home, or dacha, and had requested a meeting with him.

The whereabouts of other main mutineers, Premier Valentin Pavlov and Interior Minister Boris Pugo, was not known.

Nazarbayev said he urged Gorbachev 'not in any case to hold negotiations' with the coup leaders.

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Gorbachev said Soviet Parliament chief Anatoly Lukyanov and Communist Party Deputy General Secretary Vladimir Ivashko also were at Gorbachev's dacha for a meeting with the reinstated Soviet leader.

In Kennebunkport, Maine, President Bush said Gorbachev in a 12-minute phone conversation proclaimed that 'democracy and freedom and reform have prevailed.'

A journalist for the Leningrad City Council newspaper Smyena, Georgi Urushadze, who said he also called Gorbachev, said the Soviet leader expressed gratitude for Yeltsin's role in putting down the coup attempt.

The journalist quoted Gorbachev as saying: 'I am fully aware that it was thanks to the resistance offered by the Russian leadership and by Muscovites that it is over now. ... The putsch (uprising) has been suppressed thanks to the Russian leadership.'

Soviet television said Gorbachev had spoken with Yeltsin, the charismatic Russian Federation president who emerged as the leader of the resistance to the coup attempt.

Gorbachev told the Leningrad journalist that his health was fine but added, 'The main difficulty lies in the psychological condition of my family, which is cut off from the world.'

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