Russians are marking the 25th anniversary of a coup attempt which heralded the demise of the Soviet Union.

A group of eight hard-line Communist leaders on Aug. 19, 1991, seized power from Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, declaring him ill. In fact, Gorbachev was under arrest. Thousands of Muscovites took to the streets to protest the coup which intended to roll back Gorbachev's reformist policies.

The defeat of the coup, which came several days later, setting in motion the dissolution of the Soviet Union, is widely regarded as a triumph of democracy in Russia.

Those who opposed the coup 25 years ago will gather outside the Russian White House later on Friday to mark the holiday which is not widely observed in Russia.