Former marines of Russia’s Baltic Fleet were insulted by the party, which officials and oligarchs had enjoyed on board Russia’s legendary warship, the Aurora, the symbol of the Communist Revolution in Russia.
Mikhail Prokhorov, Russia’s richest man, organized a party on board the Aurora cruiser after the Economic Forum in St. Petersburg. Russia’s top officials and millionaires were invited to come to the party: presidential envoy Ilya Klebanov, beer tycoon Oleg Tinkov, the president of Russia’s popular odnoklassniki.ru social network Nikita Sherman, vodka tycoon Rustam Tariko, St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko and many others.
As it usually happens, strong beverages made the guests lose control over themselves. Some of them decided to jump overboard to swim in the Neva River. The businessmen were not at all confused with the fact that the party was taking place on board the nation’s historical warship.
The Aurora is the flagship of the Russian Navy. The cruiser has the crew and the captain in spite of the fact that she does not navigate. The crew is responsible for the order on board the ship and for her safe docking. The ship currently operates as a museum.
“Everything that happens on board the ship during the time when the museum is closed for visitors – namely from 4 p.m. to 10 a.m. of the next day – is the responsibility of the navy and the crew. Any decision to hold any kind of events on board the ship – whether it is a meeting with war veterans or something else – needs to be authorized by the Commander of the Leningrad Naval Base, Rear Admiral Lepitsky,” Igor Kurdin, a former naval captain said.
However, the rear admiral was not informed about the party.
“Yes, there were big people on the Aurora. However, it would never occur to anyone of us to throw a party on board the ship, to jump overboard and so forth. It’s very painful that the Aurora has become a floating bar,” the former captain complained.
Veterans claim that oligarchs could organize another party like that in Lenin’s Tomb or at the Hermitage State Museum.
Top officials in other countries can be fired for their addiction to entertaining events at the expense of private individuals. The former president of the Central Bank of Germany, Ernst Welteke, for example, did not refuse from free plane tickets or motor racing. Canada’s Minister for Tourism Cam Jackson was dismissed for his love for free travel and fancy restaurants. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert found himself in the middle of a similar scandal when it transpired that the official did not pay for his own holidays.
During the First World War the Aurora operated in the Baltic Sea. In 1915 her armament was changed to fourteen 152 mm (6in) guns. At the end of 1916, the ship was moved to Saint Petersburg (then Petrograd) for a major repair. The city was brimming with revolutionary ferment and part of her crew joined the 1917 February Revolution. A revolutionary committee was created on the ship (Aleksandr Belyshev was elected its captain). Most of the crew joined the Bolsheviks, who were preparing for a Communist revolution.
On 25 October 1917, the refusal of an order for the Aurora to take to sea sparked the October Revolution. At 9.45 p.m. on that date, a blank shot from her forecastle gun signalled the start of the assault on the Winter Palace, which was to be the last episode of the October Revolution. Aurora's crew actually took part in the attack.