Posted 19 августа 2021, 14:32

Published 19 августа 2021, 14:32

Modified 25 декабря 2022, 20:57

Updated 25 декабря 2022, 20:57

"Young people can't cope here..." How Soviet TV worked during the 1991 Putsch

19 августа 2021, 14:32
Ирина Мишина
The editor-in-chief of the Vremya news program acted wisely not to air young TV-announcers.

Irina Mishina, journalist

I remember exactly 30 years ago that day I was in Sochi. Early in the morning the maid burst into my room shouting: "Gorbachev has been overthrown, there is a coup in Moscow." She knew that at that time I was leading the "Time" program and decided to notify me of what was happening. As far as the "coup in Moscow" is concerned, this was clearly noticed: in Sochi, life continued in the same measured course. People swam in the warm sea, ate barbecue on the embankment, laughed and discussed prices in the market. But I had to leave for Moscow, where there was a coup.

The Vremya program, which I started in June 1991, was at that time directed by a wise and experienced television personality, Olvar Varlamovich Kakuchaya. He didn't call me back from vacation. As it turned out later, he "covered" all the youth of the editorial board of the information. "They still have to live and work", - he explained later.

On the way to ASK-3, there were tanks and a double cordon of guards at the Telecentre. Our cops, who knew all the presenters and correspondents by sight, never demanded to show an ID. And then they demanded both a passport and a pass. I went through and went up to the 3rd floor to the office of the editor-in-chief. On both sides of Olvar Varlamovich there were some people. Either security, or control. Olvar Varlamovich looked me straight in the eyes and said: "Why did you leave your vacation, you still have a week in my opinion?" My vacation, by a fatal accident, ended precisely on August 19, but Olvar Varlamovich, apparently, knew something or calculated the course of events. He obviously didn't want to set me up. Then it was still not clear how events would develop and how everything would end. But the miscalculation of events, apparently, prompted the editor-in-chief some decision. It was in those days that he sent the young presenter Sergei Medvedev to film Boris Yeltsin on the barricades near the White House. Subsequently, this helped Sergei make a dizzying career: he became the president's press secretary.

...People on both sides of Kakuchaya objected: "We need young faces now, let them work." - “Old experienced announcers are working now. Young ones will not be able to cope,” replied Olvar Varlamovich.

And then a mess of meetings began on television. Vladimir Molchanov, who had been at the barricades all days, happily announced the arrival of Yegor Yakovlev on TV. Leonid Petrovich Kravchenko (by the way, a cool professional TV reporter) gave way to a democrat newspaperman who had no idea about television technology. And he did not stay long, returning to his "Obshchaya Gazeta".

I was called to work when everything was done, and Rutskoi had already brought Gorbachev from Foros. Announcers, honored professionals, were removed from the air; many were fired for some reason. The hosts began to conduct the Vremya program. I remember that the technique did not work, the broadcast was full of blunders and overlays. But I also remembered the feeling of freedom - then the leading journalists were allowed to write their own texts and prepare the "Time" program. It was a great time.

...When, after the victory of the Democrats in the 20th of August, I entered the office of the editor-in-chief, I again saw two people standing next to Olvar Varlamovich. True, they were not dressed in formal jackets. But they controlled the editor-in-chief in about the same way as the GKChP (State Committee on the State of Emergency) henchmen...

After August 1991, television for a long time was plunged into a whirlpool of political showdowns, meetings, and mutual accusations. The usual semi-official format of the Vremya program has become a thing of the past for some time. It's time for personalities on TV. It was worth being a journalist for that. True, this did not last long, until about 1993: then the officialdom again began to dominate, and the presenters were again replaced by announcers. But that's another story.