Diplomat defends his role during coup THE SOVIET CRISIS

August 23, 1991|By Gilbert A. Lewthwaite | Gilbert A. Lewthwaite,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- The Soviet ambassador to Washington, Viktor Komplektov, yesterday defended his hand-delivery of -Z messages from the Moscow coup leaders to the White House and State Department earlier this week and declared his loyalty to President Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

Mr. Komplektov also said he did not become suspicious of the coup until Monday night when its leaders failed to produce promised evidence that Mr. Gorbachev was too ill to carry out his presidential functions.

Mr. Komplektov, said the embassy staff decided Monday it would not "deviate from the major policy course" set by the Gorbachev administration. Asked if anyone at the embassy had publicly disagreed with the coup, he said: "Well, we didn't have any manifestations or public discussions. . . . I would say, . . . we VTC had to stick to our professional and political duties, and that's what wedid."

Later Monday, Mr. Komplektov received "routine instructions" from Moscow to deliver a message from coup leader Gennady I. Yanayev to the White House and State Department. In handing the message over,Mr. Komplektov said he "personally went far beyond these instructions."

He added: "I just emphasized and underscored that in no circumstances will we deviate from the general foreign course we have adopted."

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