Back then, the Soviet Union bordered on the easternmost part of Czechoslovakia. A little antsy about the consequences for my stay in that former East Bloc country, I spoke with a friend on one of those scratchy trans-Atlantic phone calls of the day. She and others were a bit apprehensive about matters, she said, but, after all, the last Soviet soldiers had already departed Czechoslovakia that spring.
And I recall Christmas Day, 1991, sitting in an armchair in my Slovak landlady’s apartment, watching the Soviet flag being lowered from the Kremlin for the last time. The dissolution of the behemoth was a major consequence of the failed coup.
I’m also reminded of my first time in Russia, in St. Petersburg in the summer of 1995. As my date and I were seated, waiting for a performance of Swan Lake, she told me about the ballet’s famous “Dance of the Little Swans,” in which four ballerinas lock arms and step in unison: “Shortly after the coup, a TV channel produced a parody with faces of the four main coup leaders superimposed on the dancers. Because, you see, all they showed on TV during the coup was Swan Lake.”
As I later learned, such broadcasts were typical of the Soviet era during times of turmoil or uncertainty. I posted about a similar reference to Swan Lake a year and a half ago (it's a few "short takes," so you'll have to scroll down a bit).
Russian Life has just published a good re-hash of the events of August 1991. (I once wrote an article on medieval Russia for them, by the way, but it’s not available online.)
I’ve searched diligently for the Swan Lake parody, with no luck, but here’s a video of the “Dance des petits cygnes” from YouTube.