A shot in the dark

The legendary Russian naval cruiser Aurora, which sparked the historic 1917 Bolshevik Revolution by firing a blank shot to signal the start of the assault on the Winter Palace, has dropped another bombshell.

­A sensational video clip circulating on the Internet appears to show invaders boarding the historic “ship of the Revolution”, which is moored in St. Petersburg and currently functions as a floating museum.

With suspense worthy of an Alfred Hitchcock thriller, the Russian video shows a bunch of young people dressed in diving suits swimming towards the Aurora. Upon reaching the deck of the cruiser, they get hold of the bow chaser and fire a shot.

Is it a hoax? Most viewers didn’t buy it, given that the Aurora’s main gun has been silent for years.  

But seeing is believing, and the movie’s popularity skyrocketed over the course of a single day as Internet users tried to figure out how on Earth the shot could have been produced at all, if the whole scenario wasn’t simply down to smart picture editing.

The director of the Central Military Sea Museum – a branch of the Aurora museum – said an inspection of the cruiser had revealed no sign of trespassing.  

“It’s been all made up, if only because it’s impossible to produce a shot from the gun. Of course, all the mechanisms on Aurora are in operational condition since it’s a combat ship. However, they are out of commission,” Andrey Lyalin told Interfax news agency.

Interestingly, however, one of the first sources to mention the controversial video clip was none other than the scandalous art group Voina (War), best known for their 65-meter phallus “objet d’art” whitewashed on a drawbridge in St. Petersburg, right opposite the Federal Security Service building which won them a major art award earlier this year.

Whether real or fake, the video has certainly had a powerful effect on the St. Petersburg and Leningrad region Communist Party, whose members are notorious for their colorful signature remarks.

“Only two people have the right to produce a shot from the cruiser of the revolution. These are Lenin and Dzerzhinsky,” its leader, Sergey Malinkovich, commented on the party’s official website.

He added that such “dangerous naughtiness” is tantamount to an assault on the great monument to the revolution. Members of the party fear that such extreme actions could even lead to Aurora’s removal from its current address.

Communist party activists have been campaigning for the restoration of the cruiser which could then make weekly “honorary voyages” along the Neva River across the historic center of St Petersburg to pay homage to Lenin’s favorite sights.

“Residents of St. Petersburg will enjoy their ride for free; Muscovites will pay, while members of NATO will have to stump up in their local currency. Guests from the [former] Soviet socialist countries will be given considerable discounts,” the St. Petersburg and Leningrad communists added.   

It is not the first time an “incident” has taken place on the cruiser. Last month, a group of activists climbed up the masts of the Aurora and hoisted the Jolly Roger – a flag showing a white skull and crossbones on a black background, associated with piracy. It took the police several hours to remove the culprits from the ship’s mast.

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