‘Pirates’ Storm Historic Ship
Published: October 19, 2011 (Issue # 1679)
ALEXANDER BELENKY / SPT
Activists hung a pirate flag from the masts of the historic Avrora cruiser Sunday.
The Leningrad Military base called Sunday’s incident in which a pirate flag was hoisted from the cruiser Avrora an act of vandalism, comparing it to when a visitor to the State Hermitage Museum threw acid on and slashed Rembrandt’s “Danae,” Rosbalt news agency reported.
A group of young people who boarded the museum ship under the guise of being tourists raised the flag at about 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Their party of eight, planning to hoist the flag to the top of the mast, split into two groups. One of them was caught by museum employees and handed over to police. The second group, consisting of two young men and a young woman, managed to climb the mast and hang a Jolly Roger flag.
The young people then refused to climb down and stayed on the mast until one of them was talked down by a psychologist. The others were taken down by emergency workers and police.
The young people, from St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Oblast, caused no damage to the ship, said Andrei Lyalin, director of the city’s Central Navy Museum, Interfax reported.
They did, however, demonstrate inappropriate behavior for St. Petersburg residents, Lyalin said.
The first group of young people who were unsuccessful in their “takeover” of the revolutionary cruiser were unemployed and from other parts of Russia such as Murmansk, Petrozavodsk and Electrostal, the city police said. They were detained by police before they could hang banners calling for an end to hunger.
The Narodnaya Dolya (People’s Share) and Food Not Bombs organizations claimed responsibility for the events. Organization representatives had announced earlier that they were planning to do something called “Memorial October or Avrora Sunday” to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily reported.
The organizations themselves sent press releases to the media saying the act itself was aimed at drawing attention to the problems of poverty in Russia. They provided statistics showing the level of poverty in Russia at 16.1 percent — almost 23 million people — who live below the poverty line. At the same time, the number of billionaires in Russia increased by 160 percent — from 62 to 101 people during the last year, they said.
The organizations also said that the price of staple foodstuffs grew by 22.7 percent in 2010.
The Avrora Cruiser has long been a symbol of the Bolshevik Revolution. A blank shot was fired from its canon as a signal to storm the Winter Palace in October of 1917, heralding the start of the October Revolution.