June 27 - 1905 - The Mutiny on the Battleship Potemkin
The battleship Potemkin would become a grand symbol of the Soviet Union because its mutiny was an example of "workers," enlisted men," against the well-off officers onboard. Yet the actual mutiny was an outgrowth of very specific conditions in 1905. In the Russo-Japanese War, the Russian Navy was humiliated and devastated by the Japanese Navy after April 1905. Meanwhile, back at home, a Revolution had broken out in January 1905 in St. Petersburg, which featured various uprisings around the Russian Empire. This discord even reached the Black Sea Fleet at Sebastopol, where a group of revolutionary soldiers planned a mass mutiny. Its planned day of mutiny came and went, but then one of the leaders, Afanasi Matushenko, led a mutiny on his ship, the Battleship Potemkin. The mutiny was actually triggered by a refusal of the men to eat borscht with rotten meat, which then led to the First Officer threatening to shoot the men. He was killed for his troubles, along with most other officers. The Potemkin was then at a loss, as the committee that steered the ship, led by Matushenko, had nowhere to go. Eventually, they made it to Romania, where they gave up the ship. Matushenko would live for two years in exile, returning to Russia in 1907, where he was arrested and later executed.