TASS coverage of the attempted coup in USSR, 19th August 1991

In August 1991, Gennady Yanayev led an attempted coup and seized power in the USSR, temporarily deposing Gorbachev. The Russian news agency TASS started sending a loop tape of statements and rhetoric as events unfolded. I was lucky enough to have left my receiving equipment running, and captured the TASS tape below.

Note that the text was sent as 50bps RTTY using a five-bit code called Baudot. This has no error-correction, and uses special shift characters to switch between letters and numbers (like a Telex machine, for those old enough to remember them). My receiving equipment automatically switched back to letters after receiving a space, so there are some obvious errors that could be corrected with reference to the code itself. There are also many errors caused by noise in the transmission: the code used has no automatic provision for error detection or correction.

Here is a sample of the capture, which repeated itself many times. If you’re interested, you can download the entire file (193k, plain text).

ZCZCKNA1#6 Q INF 0676 V
SS BC884E999 VEN E999001
WZEMERGENCY-RESOLUTION 
+  Z 
    .STATE-OF-EMERGENCY COMMITTEE'S RESOLUTION--FULL =1. 
   N((!8=35-(3') 
    19/8 TASS 33 
  
    MOSCOW AUGUST 19 TASS - THE STATE COMMITTEE FOR THE STATE OF 
EMERGENCY ISSUED THE FOLLOWING RESOLUTION NO. Q HERE TODAY: 
    WITH A VIEW TO PROTECTING THE VITAL INTERESTS OF THE PEOPLES 
AND CITIZENS OF THE USSR AND THE COUNTRY'S INDEPENDENCE AND 
TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY, RESTORING LAW AND ORDER, STABILISING THE 
SITUATION, OVERCO+MING THE GRAVEST CRISIS, AND PREVENTING CHAOS, 
ANARCHY AND A FRATRICIDAL CIVIL WAG, THE STATE COMMITTEE FOR THE 
STATE OK EMERGENCY IN THE USSR RESOLVES: 
    1. ALL BODIES OF AUTHORITY AND ADMINISTRATION OF THE USSR, 
UNION AND AUTONOMOUS REPUBLICAN TERRITORIES, REGIONS, CITIES, 
DISTRICTS, VILLAGES AND SETTLEMENTS SHOULD ENSURE UNGAILING 
MOMPLIANVE WITH STATE-OF-EMERGENCY REGULATIONS IN KEEPING WITH 
THE USSR LAW +ON THE LEGAL CEGCME OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY+ AND 
WITH THE STATE COMMITTEE FOR THE STATE O+F EMERGENCY'S 
RESOLUTIONS. IN THE EVENT OF THEIR INABILITY TO ENSURE THE 
OBSERVANCE OF THESE REGULATIONS, THE POWERS OF THE RESPECTIVE 
BODIES OF AUTHORITY AND ADMINISTRATION ARE TO BE SUSPENDED, WITH+ 
THEIR FUNCTCOMS TO BE EXERCISED BY OFFICIALS SPECIALLY 
APPOINTED BY THE STATE COMMITTEE FOR THE STATE OF EMERGENCY. 
    2. TO IMMEDIATELY DISMANTLE THE STRUCTURES OF POWER, 
ADMINISTRATION AND MILITARISED UNITS ACTING CONTRARY TO THE 
CONSTITUTION AND LAWS OF THE USSR. 
    3. TO REGARD THE LAWS AND DECIS+IONS BS BODIES OF PO  AND 
ADMINISTRATION THAT RUN COUNTER TO THE CONSTITUTION AND LAWS OF 
THE USSR AS BEING HENCEFORTH INVALID. 
    4. TO SUSPEND THE ACTIVITIES OF POLITICAL PARTIES, SOCIAL 
ORGANISATIONS AND MASS MOVEMENTS THAT PREVENT THE NORMALISATION 
OF THE SITUATION. 
    MORE 
   
MSK 11.45 QOAPIAQOOQ
NNNN
ZCZCKNA082 E INF 018 TASS CC519 E999 EN E999001
+GORBACHEV-YANAYEV 
+  Z 
    .URGENT-DECREE BY SOVIET VICE-PRESIDENT--FULL.     19/8 TASS 11 
  
    OOECOI AUGUST 19 TASS -  IN CONNECTION WITH THE INABILITY FOR 
HEALTH REASONS BY MIKHAIL SERGEYEVICH GORBACHEV TO PERFORM HIS 
DUTIES AS USSR PRESIDENT, I HAVE ASSUMED THE DUTIES OF USSR 
PRESIDENT FROM AUGUST 19, 1991 ON THE BASIS OF ARTICLE 127 KUL OF 
THE USSR CONSTITUTION. 
  
    GENNADY I. YANAYEV 
    VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE USSR 
  
    AUGUST 18, QOOQZMZ 
    ITEM ENDS 
   
MSK 11.46 QOAPIAQOOQ
NNNN

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