Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: A violent conflict is a very bad idea. People should not die for political reasons

Twenty-eight years ago, on October 4, 1993, Boris Yeltsin decided to storm the House of Soviets. Then the order was given to use tanks and armoured vehicles.

No doubt, there were politicians who were out for blood. There were enough of them on both sides of the barricades. But for many others and for me the question was simple: what can be done to prevent carnage. Violent conflict, I still think so, was a very bad idea. In peacetime, people should not die for political reasons.
“One just need to do everything to stop the carnage. At the end of the 20th century, it is unacceptable to solve political problems with tanks and helicopters,” I thought then. I think so now.
In September 1993, when it became clear that the conflict between the president and the Supreme Council was becoming irreversible, on the initiative of several politicians - Ramazan Abdulatipov, Anatoly Sobchak and mine - the Council of Federation Subjects, the prototype of the current Federation Council, was created.
Many regional leaders and chairmen of legislative assemblies, who were against the tough conflict, entered this body. Me and chairman of the Leningrad Oblast Council Vadim Gustov were elected co-chairs. We gathered in the office of the Constitutional Court Chairman Valery Zorkin and drew up an appeal to the warring parties. It was signed by 68 people.

It was important for us to prevent war and split in society. We proposed to adopt the so-called “zero option”: the Supreme Council was to cancel its resolution on the impeachment of Boris Yeltsyn, and he, in turn, was to cancel his decree on the dissolution of the Supreme Council. Patriarch Alexy II also supported this idea in his message to the President and the Supreme Council. Based on this common decision, we began to prepare the ground for negotiations.

But the conflict has gone too far. A lot of military equipment has already been brought to Moscow. On October 3, I saw this armada sitting in the office of the commander of one of the branches of the armed forces. When so many weapons are concentrated in one place, it becomes clear that a collision is almost inevitable, although there was still hope of a peaceful resolution of the issue.
All the members of the Council agreed on a meeting in the morning of October 4. At night, there was a clash in Ostankino; in the morning, there was firing at the White House. The President of Ingushetia, Hero of the Soviet Union Ruslan Aushev and I came to Zorkin. He had the TV on showing the shootout live. Then Aushev and I decided to go to the White House as envoys to stop the bloodshed.
In my Lincoln, with a white flag made from a curtain from Zorkin's office, we drove to the building of the Supreme Soviet, and there was also a priest with us.
Shooting was all around. They announced that the envoys had arrived, and the shots stopped for a while. But as soon as Aushev and I entered the entrance, the shooting resumed.
Ruslan Aushev and I went to negotiations at the White House under condition that they would not shoot, but when we entered Khasbulatov's office, two bullets flew through the window. We saw the first corpses right outside the White House. A tank hit the kiosk, near which the family was standing. Killed all four, and the baby too. The corpses were not removed.
Was I scared? I cannot answer unequivocally. There in the White House, in order to hide from bullets, one had to not just bend down, but lie on the floor. So, we all lay there. There were a lot of wounded and killed people. Stepping over the bodies, Aushev and I began to climb up to Rutskoy and Khasbulatov.
I was mentally prepared for what I would see. I served in the army. During the Afghan war, I asked to be sent there. I participated in the peaceful resolving the clashes between the Ossetians and the Ingush...
Then, we contacted the secretary of the Security Council Oleg Lobov. I said: "We are here with Ruslan Aushev. You are to cease fire." He said that they had many women and children with them. In the blockade there were not only the deputies, but also the service personnel. The children brought them food. They had been allowed to pass, and then those who remained could no longer leave.
I asked Lobov: "Stop the shooting, we will bring the women and children out." The shooting was stopped, and we took out a hundred or more people. The building was already on fire. We rushed to the car. As soon as we were in the car, they fired at it. Later, I counted nine holes. No one was hurt.
I think I did everything that could be done in that situation. And if they ask me what I would do now, I will answer: the same. Only God forbid that Russia finds itself on the verge of a civil war again.