When the news bulletins came, some were busy building their biceps while others were pushing away from the breakfast table.
Some -- like a city police officer -- cheered inside. Others, more familiar with the cold realities of politics in the Soviet Union, expressed cautious optimism. But most people in the Baltimore area were quick to voice their views as the fast-moving events of the political coup appeared to unravel today in the U.S.S.R.
Patrick Mooney, a physical therapist and a patron at a Calvert Street restaurant, said, "If it's over, the people fighting for a freer way of life, maybe they'll be strengthened in showing their resolve."
The attempted coup by a committee of eight hard-liners was particularly worrisome, Mooney said, because of "that fear that some radical would get a hold of that big button."
Bill Swaggert, 49, a contractor, was exercising at the Downtown Athletic Club when he described the putsch as "ill-planned, a Stalin type of thing. Gorbachev worked closer with the U.S., and Yeltsin is the up-and-coming leader who one day might lead the U.S.S.R."
But Arthur Abramson, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, said uncertainties about the Soviet political landscape make him "cautiously optimistic.
"Internally and internationally, things are still far from complete there," said Abramson, who works on immigrant issues and has a doctorate in international studies.
"Things could change back because the powerful KGB and military still show pockets of holding out," he said.
Officer Lynette Nevins of the city Police Department said she was amazed at how quickly the coup was activated, then became untracked.
"The junta, they're absolutely immoral," she said. "I think it's wonderful that the coup" is finished.
Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-3rd, said the United States %o government should keep "reinforcing" the people of the Soviet Union against those who seized power.
And while the coup appeared to have failed, he said, the need to continue reforms in the Soviet Union continue. It's more important that the U.S. supply technical assistance, not dollars, Cardin said.
Renat Sukhov, 25, a medical technician at Johns Hopkins Hospital, said he doubted all along that the coup would be successful. "They didn't have enough power," he said.
Sukhov, a Leningrad doctor who came to Baltimore a year ago, said he was calm throughout the coup and was not overly concerned about his friends and family in the Soviet Union.
Many area residents have grown to admire Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
"What's gratifying is the news that the two Soviet leaders who had been opposing each other politically are somewhat together in this forward approach," Mooney said.
Mahmoud Pourarsalan of Columbia said he never thought th coup would be successful.
"I didn't think the people were going to go along," Pourarsalan said. "All the troops are Russian, and Russians aren't going to shoot Russians. Those days are gone."