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Russia's 1993 Constitutional Crisis: 20 Years On

Twenty years ago, Russia faced a constitutional crisis that marked a key turning point in Russia's post-Soviet development. Hundreds of people were killed or injured when the showdown between President Boris Yeltsin and the Russian legislature escalated into skirmishes in the Russian capital and the occupation and subsequent storming of the parliament building. (16 PHOTOS)

After a prolonged conflict between Russia's Congress of People's Deputies and President Boris Yeltsin, Yeltsin dissolved the legislature on September 21, 1993. Deputies refused to leave the parliament building and their supporters set up barricades in the streets.
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After a prolonged conflict between Russia's Congress of People's Deputies and President Boris Yeltsin, Yeltsin dissolved the legislature on September 21, 1993. Deputies refused to leave the parliament building and their supporters set up barricades in the streets.

Parliament responded to Yeltsin's decree by impeaching him and declaring Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi president, setting the stage for a showdown.
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Parliament responded to Yeltsin's decree by impeaching him and declaring Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi president, setting the stage for a showdown.

On October 3, thousands of pro-parliament demonstrators -- mostly Communist supporters and nationalists -- clashed with riot police.
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On October 3, thousands of pro-parliament demonstrators -- mostly Communist supporters and nationalists -- clashed with riot police.

On October 3, pro-parliament demonstrators broke through police lines surrounding the parliament building. Yeltsin declared a state of emergency in Moscow.
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On October 3, pro-parliament demonstrators broke through police lines surrounding the parliament building. Yeltsin declared a state of emergency in Moscow.

Supporters of the parliament took control of the Moscow municipal government building and attempted to storm the Ostankino broadcast center on the night of October 3.
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Supporters of the parliament took control of the Moscow municipal government building and attempted to storm the Ostankino broadcast center on the night of October 3.

Anti-Yeltsin protesters breaking windows at Moscow's Ostankino broadcast center on the night of October 3.
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Anti-Yeltsin protesters breaking windows at Moscow's Ostankino broadcast center on the night of October 3.

Dozens of people were killed in the fighting on October 3. First Deputy Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar appeared on television and called for Yeltsin's supporters to demonstrate.
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Dozens of people were killed in the fighting on October 3. First Deputy Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar appeared on television and called for Yeltsin's supporters to demonstrate.

Around 8 a.m. on October 4, tanks opened fire on the upper floors of the parliament building, preparing the way for an assault by elite counterterrorism units.
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Around 8 a.m. on October 4, tanks opened fire on the upper floors of the parliament building, preparing the way for an assault by elite counterterrorism units.

Russian special forces taking cover on the morning of October 4 shortly before assaulting the parliament building.
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Russian special forces taking cover on the morning of October 4 shortly before assaulting the parliament building.

By midday, troops had entered the parliament building and had begun clearing it floor-by-floor. Order was slowly restored in the streets, although occasional sniper fire continued throughout the day.
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By midday, troops had entered the parliament building and had begun clearing it floor-by-floor. Order was slowly restored in the streets, although occasional sniper fire continued throughout the day.

The Moscow municipal government building burned on October 4 as pro-Yeltsin military forces retook control.
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The Moscow municipal government building burned on October 4 as pro-Yeltsin military forces retook control.

Former parliament chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov (second from left) and former Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi (third from right) being escorted from the parliament building on October 4.
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Former parliament chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov (second from left) and former Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi (third from right) being escorted from the parliament building on October 4.

Following the 1993 violence, the parliament building underwent extensive rennovation and today it is the seat of the Russian government. Yeltsin pushed through a new constitution in December 1993, giving the presidency sweeping powers that have been increased over the last two decades.
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Following the 1993 violence, the parliament building underwent extensive rennovation and today it is the seat of the Russian government. Yeltsin pushed through a new constitution in December 1993, giving the presidency sweeping powers that have been increased over the last two decades.

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