A press conference. The journalists had permission to come into the grounds and walk through the picket lines. When everyone was packing up their gear to leave, there was Igor, a young Russian journalist. He asked me if I wanted to come in and see how they were living. So I went inside and then he said: “If you want, you can stay with us.”
The amazing thing about the Putsch is that you had these really young journalists, like eighteen, nineteen years old. They were against Yeltsin, because he had dissolved the parliament. Among the rebels you had fascists, you had orthodox, you had communists, you had anarchists. And you had the common people who were just upset. Their parliament was dissolved, and Yeltsin was acting like a dictator. and there was a bunch of these young journalists living in the White House.
The Western journalists were ordered to leave when their newspapers found out about the attack. In a rage, Yeltsin said he was going to kill everyone inside. Igor knew that the story was going to play itself out there. When they fired the tank rockets, one of the first salvos hit our floor. A journalist from Siberia was hit by the explosion, and I was lying there in smoke and blood. His blood. I thought it was mine. With the whole floor on fire, the rebels came in and took the young journalist away. I was gonna die. Then they came back and pulled me out of the rubble.
//I thought, if I’m gonna die
at least I should record this//
It was a very dangerous place to be moving around in, because the Russian soldiers were firing constantly. The only way to get to the other side of the building was to run this gauntlet. Before I was blown up, I would have never thought of going downstairs to that main corridor. I went, because I wanted to get to the other side where Rutskoy was holed up. the fact that I thought I was gonna die gave me courage. Courage is control of fear. Running across that floor I was controlling my fear. And, to this day, I really think that this incident is the one that steeled me.
I’m no hero, but it steeled me so that once i commit to a story, I have to see it through.