[Air-L] Before Iran, Tunisia and Egypt, the Soviet coup attempt

Larry Press lpress at csudh.edu
Mon Jan 31 21:02:37 PST 2011

The first example of network citizen journalism may have been during the 
August 1991 coup attempt by eight high level Soviet officials. There 
were two days of confrontation between demonstrators and troops, during 
which all Russian media except Usenet news groups were shut down by the 
authorities. Usenet, a precursor of today's Internet discussion forums, 
carried traffic into, out of and within Russia (70 cities) during the 
days of the coup attempt.

One of the quotes from that time foreshadows the Internet shut down in 
Egypt today. Polina Antonova of RELCOM, the Unix distributor that 
operated the network wrote:

"They try to close all mass media, they stopped CNN an hour ago, and 
Soviet TV transmits opera and old movies.  But, thank Heaven, they don't 
consider RELCOM mass media or they simply forgot about it.  Now we 
transmit information enough to put us in prison for the rest of our life".

After two tense days, the coup failed and president Mikhail Gorbachev 
was restored to power. For more on the role of the network during the 
coup attempt, including links to archives of the traffic, see:


Larry Press

More information about the Air-L mailing list