A Momentous Week
THE world was shocked on Monday, August 19, 1991, when coup leaders took power in the Soviet Union, and President Mikhail Gorbachev was placed under house arrest in the Crimea. Not many miles away, in beautiful Odessa, final preparations were under way for the weekend convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses in that city. Sadly, the Odessa convention was canceled by local officials.
Yet, the Witnesses did not give up. They continued their preconvention preparations and pleaded with a city official to do all that he could to reverse the cancellation. Representatives of Jehovah’s Witnesses were told to return Thursday, August 22. On that afternoon, after a meeting of the city council, the Witnesses were handed written permission for the convention and were wished the best. In Moscow, coup leaders had been forced to surrender that very day!
How fast it all happened! And how marvelous it was to see over 12,000 assemble that weekend! On August 27, two days after the Odessa convention, representatives of Jehovah’s Witnesses called on Mr. V. K. Simonenko, chairman of the City of Odessa Executive Committee, thanked him for allowing the convention to be held, and presented him with a copy of the new book The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived in the Russian language.
Mr. Simonenko expressed appreciation for the gift and said: “I was not at the convention, but I know everything that took place there. Since the beginnings of Odessa, I have never seen anything better than this . . . I promise you that whenever you need permission to hold your meetings, I will always be willing to grant it.”
[Chart on page 31]
CONVENTIONS IN THE SOVIET UNION IN 1991
Date City Peak Baptism
July 13, 14 Tallinn, Estonia 4,808 447
July 20, 21 Usolye-Sibirskoye, 4,205 543
August 2, 3 Kiev, Ukraine 14,654 1,843
August 3, 4 Lvov, Ukraine 17,531 1,316
August 24, 25 Odessa, Ukraine 12,115 1,943
August 31– Chernovtsy, 14,137 1,126
September 1 Ukraine
September 7, 8 Alma-Ata, 6,802 602