On this day: Soviet coup collapsed in Russia

On this day in 1991, Soviet soldiers defending Russian president Boris Yeltsin try to calm a crowd of demonstrators. Picture: Getty
On this day in 1991, Soviet soldiers defending Russian president Boris Yeltsin try to calm a crowd of demonstrators. Picture: Getty
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Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 21 August

1808: The Battle of Vimeiro in the Peninsular War took place in Portugal, with Wellington defeating General Junot’s French forces.

1858: Sir Sam Browne, VC, invented the Sam Browne belt to hold his sword and pistol after he had lost an arm in action. It soon became standard military kit.

1879: An apparition of the Blessed Virgin was reported in the village of Knock, Co Mayo, in the Republic of Ireland.

1911: Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre in Paris by an Italian waiter, Vincenzo Peruggia. It was recovered two years later from where he had hidden it – under a bed in a hotel.

1911: German Emperor William II spoke at Hamburg on Germany’s “place in the sun”, which he said the navy would secure.

1916: Turkish massacre of 500,000 Armenians, and the deportation of one million others, first reported.

1961: Goya’s masterpiece The Duke of Wellington was stolen from the National Gallery, London.

1961: Jomo Kenyatta was freed by British authorities after nine years’ detention following Mau Mau terrorism campaign in Kenya.

1962: Savannah, the world’s first nuclear-powered merchant ship, sailed from the United States on her maiden voyage.

1963: Buddhists were arrested and martial law was imposed in South Vietnam.

1975: United States lifted 12-year ban on exports to Cuba by foreign subsidiaries of US companies, but kept embargo on direct trade between Cuba and the US.

1983: Philippine opposition leader Benigno Aquino was assassinated in Manila as he stepped out of a plane.

1986: Lake Nyos disaster in Cameroon killed at least 1,500 as poison gas formed by a mixture of carbon dioxide and hydrogen gas escaped from a volcanic lake.

1990: 100,000 gathered in Prague’s Wenceslas Square for first free commemoration of 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia.

1991: Soviet coup collapsed. Boris Yeltsin took over troops and Supreme Soviet legislative bodies reinstated president Mikhail Gorbachev as he returned from house arrest in the Crimea region.

2001: Nato decided to send a peace-keeping force to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.


Usain Bolt, Jamaican sprinter, 28; Dame Janet Baker DBE, opera singer, 81; Kim Cattrall, actress, 58; Jackie DeShannon, singer/songwriter, 70; Barry Norman CBE, author, journalist and broadcaster, 81; Kenny Rogers, country singer, 76; Joanne Froggatt, actress, 34; Johnny Reid, Lanark-born country music artist; Kelis, singer-songwriter, 35; Ricki Lake, actress, producer and TV talk show host; Peter Weir, film director, 70; Doug Wright, English cricketer, 100; Brad Kavanagh, actor and singer-songwriter, 22; Mohammed VI, king of Morrocco; Anne Hobbs, former British No 1 tennis player; Sergey Brin, computer scientist, entrepreneur, co-founder of Google, 41.


Births: 1670 James FitzJames, 1st Duke of Berwick; 1754 William Murdock, Old Cumnock-born engineer and inventor of coal-gas lighting; 1764 William IV; 1872 Aubrey Beardsley, author and illustrator; 1895 Blossom Rock, actress (The Addams Family); 1904 Count Basie, jazz pianist and bandleader; 1906 Isadore “Friz” Freleng, animator and cartoonist (Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies); 1924 Jack Weston, actor; 1930 Princess Margaret; 1937 Donald Dewar, MP, MSP, First Minister 1999-2000; 1952 Joe Strummer, musician, singer and songwriter (The Clash).

Deaths: 1689 William Cleland, Scottish poet and soldier; 1785 Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, French sculptor; 1878 Conrad Martens, painter; 1930 Sir Aston Webb, architect; 1932 Frederick Carter, composer; 1935 Rev Hohn Hartley, Englich clergyman who won Wimbledon twice; 1940 Leon Trotsky, Communist revolutionary; 1940 Ernest Thayer, writer and poet; 1947 Ettore Bugatti, Italian-French automobile designer and manufacturer; 1980 Norman Shelley, actor; 2005 Robert Moog, pioneer of electronic music, inventor of Moog synthesiser; 2013 Sid Bernstein, music producer and promoter; 2006 Martin Dillon, operatic tenor and professor of music..