MOSCOW -- Long after the tanks are quiet in their garrisons and the barricades dismantled, the indelible image of this week's abortive coup in the Soviet Union will be the picture of one defiant man -- Boris Yeltsin -- clambering up the dark green hull of a T-72 tank to rally his people for democracy.
It was a quintessential Yeltsin moment. The burly Siberian had watched from the windows of his Russian Federation headquarters as the tanks surrounded the building Monday afternoon. After little more than an hour, he strode impulsively out the door, clambered up onto one of the armored vehicles, and greeted a tank officer as if he were a prospective voter instead of the spearhead of a hostile military force.
Then, with the white, blue and red flag of an independent Russia by his side, he spoke in a booming baritone full of the confidence his anxious listeners needed.