August 24, 1991: Gorbachev quits party post
President Mikhail Gorbachev resigned from the Soviet Communist Party leadership and effectively destroyed it as a political force. In decrees, he ordered the seizure by the state of its property, banned it from all state organisations and suggested it dissolve itself. He also appointed Ivan Silayev, Prime Minister of Boris Yeltsin’s Russian republic, to head a new Soviet government. Gorbachev said both the party, which ruled unchallenged for seven decades, and the government were tainted by involvement in last week’s coup. The Soviet Union moved closer to breaking up when the parliament of the Ukraine, second-biggest of the 15 republics, declared independence subject to a referendum.
Other important events
1909 The first concrete is poured for the Panama Canal.
1950 Edith Sampson becomes the first black US delegate to the United Nations.
1954 President Getulio Vargas of Brazil kills himself with a gunshot to the heart.
1963 American swimmer Don Schollander becomes the first man to swim the 200-metre freestyle in less than two minutes.
1964 Fireworks explosion in Atlatahuca, Mexico, during religious celebration kills 45 people and injures 33.
1965 United Arab Republic and Yemen sign a cease-fire agreement.
1966 The Soviet Union launched its Luna 11 space probe to study the Moon’s chemical composition, gravity, meteorite concentration, and radiation.
1968 France becomes the world’s fifth thermonuclear power after it successfully tests a hydrogen bomb.
1973 The United States agrees to reduce its armed forces in Thailand.
1976 Two Soviet cosmonauts return to Earth after 48 days in orbit in the space laboratory.
1985 The pilot of a Chinese military aircraft crash lands his plane in South Korea and asks for political asylum in Taiwan.
1989 Solidarity journalist Tadeusz Mazowiecki officially becomes Poland’s prime minister.
1990 Irish hostage Brian Keenan is freed by Lebanese kidnappers after 52 months of captivity.
1992 China and South Korea sign a pact opening diplomatic relations, punching through one of the last Cold War barriers in Asia.
1995 China expels US human rights activist Harry Wu, just hours after he was sentenced to 15 years in jail for spying
2000 Rev. John Kaiser, an outspoken American priest is found dead in western Kenya.
2004 Chechen suicide bombers destroy two Russian airliners, killing 90 passengers and crew.
2006 Pluto is demoted to a ‘dwarf planet’.
2008 An Iran-bound passenger jet carrying 90 people crashes near Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, killing at least 65 people.
2011 Apple co-founder Steve Jobs resigns from his CEO post and hands the reins to Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook.
2012 US anti-doping agency strips Lance Armstrong of his record seven Tour de France titles and slaps the cyclist with a lifetime ban.
2014 Hollywood actor and director Richard Attenborough dies at the age of 90.
2015 British driver Justin Wilson dies after suffering a severe head injury at IndyCar race in Pennsylvania.