ST. PETERSBURG, October 16 (RIA Novosti)
Russian Navy sailors on the cruiser Avrora - a symbol of the October 1917 Bolshevik Revolution - left the ship for the last time on Tuesday as it was handed over to a civilian crew, a military source told RIA Novosti.
"Early this morning the sailors left the Avrora," the source said.
The cruiser played a key part in the events of October 1917, famously firing a blank shell which was the signal for Bolshevik workers and soldiers to storm the Winter Palace, leading to the Communists taking power in the city, then the capital. In 1944 the ship was moored at a berth on the Petrovsky Embankment as a floating museum and fleet memorial, and since the mid-20th century has been a part of the Central Navy Museum.
Two years ago, the ship was formally handed back to the Russian Navy and a crew was formed to man her, but this decision was opposed by many politicians and locals.
The Russian Fleet's head Vice-Admiral Viktor Chirkov, said previously that no order had been received to transfer the Avrora to the fleet.
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Military exercises are held in order to prevent a war rather than prepare for one. If a potential enemy knows and sees that the Russian Army is constantly improving its skills and adopting state-of-the-art combat equipment and combat support systems he will hardly risk aggression against these Armed Forces and the country they defend.