This day, 15 years ago, an unprecedented event took place in Moscow. German air hooligan Mattias Rust landed on Red Square. He was 19 years old.
The light-engine Сessna 173P flew from Helsinki. The aircraft flew 800 km over Soviet territory and, at 18:10, it landed on Vasilyevsky Spusk Street, in Moscow, near Red Square. It flew at a very low height while crossing Gulf of Finland; therefore, the air-defence forces did not noticed him. In the USSR, the incident was considered to be impudence, so measures were immediately taken. The head of the state, Mikhail Gorbachev, without hesitating, fired Defence Minister Sokolov and air-defence Commander-In-Chief Koldunov, who brought down 56 German aircraft during the Great Patriotic War. On that day, the West was exulting: the the myth of USSR invincibility was completely ruined.
The same fate awaited a dozen generals and many officers. The operative orderly of Tallinn Division, the colonel responsible for that section of air space, was imprisoned.
The military, however, made the excuse that they were unable to violate the law. They tracked the German’s flight. However, according to the new instruction of the USSR, they could not shoot down non-military flying objects. The instruction was introduced after the incident with South Korean Boeing 747, which intruded USSR air space and was brought down by a Soviet fighter in Far East September 1, 1983.
The discharges that followed the Mattias Rust incident were nothing but a reason to get rid of thick-headed military commanders, the military supposed. The leadership of the country preferred to make them scapegoats.
On September 2, the trial of Mattias Rust took place. He was sentenced to 4 years of correctional work, but he was released after a year. However, was 19-year-old boy be really responsible for the incident? He did what he was told. On May 28, the USSR celebrated the Day of the Border Guard. Rust’s flight and the propaganda campaign caused by it in the West should have shown to the west the lack of effective defence of Soviet borders.
USSR leader Gorbachev came off clean.
Sergei Yugov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/05/28/41843.html