On November 7, 1990, terrorist Aleksandr Shmonov, attempted to shoot the then-leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev , in the middle of the mass celebrations of the October Revolution anniversary on Red Square in Moscow.
Locksmith Aleksandr Shmonov, originally from a village in the Leningrad region, was known among his fellow villagers for his anti-Soviet views and strong disapproval of the policies pursued by the government. He demanded open, universal presidential elections, and blamed Gorbachev and his team for seizing the power illegally. He made his ideas known by drawing slogans and parading with them on every celebration of any Soviet holiday. To his way of thinking, the only way to pull the country out of its crisis was to merely do away with the illegitimate leaders, by any means at one’s disposal. He was never discreet about his plans, distributing leaflets, with all his positions laid out.
Though under observation by the KGB after a number of such activities, he was never considered by law reinforcement agencies as being capable of committing a serious crime. Once they figured out Shmonov had no strong back-up, nor was he involved in any rebellious organization, they paid very little attention to his actions. This was the reason no suspicions were aroused as he started to prepare for the actual terrorist act, with several agents still watching him. He purchased a very expensive and advanced foreign model of rifle and adjusted it to fit well under his coat, also producing special super-powerful bullets. It was not until Shmonov quit his job and left town without telling his family where he was going that the KGB finally realized he might be up to something heinous.
When Shmonov made his way to Red Square, he managed to blend into the marching crowd, but it was too far from the Mausoleum, on top of which the leaders were standing, and the security system – the crowd was split up into squares, vigilantly guarded by KGB officers – didn’t let him move any closer. Shmonov began getting ready to shoot from where he was, but as he was aiming at Gorbachev, one of the police officers charged at him and knocked the rifle out of his hands. The two bullets Shmonov managed to shoot went up in the air. The noise and loud music drowned the sounds of the gun shots, and only a few people close to the site were able to see what had happened.
In the aftermath, experts claimed Shmonov would not have succeeded since Gorbachev had a bulletproof vest on. However, Shmonov objected that he had suspected that likelihood, and was aiming accordingly for Gorbachev’s head. When reporters offered him to try and make the same shot at the distance of 50 meters – this is how far he was from Gorbachev on the Red Square – he scored a bull’s eye.
When asked who exactly Shmonov had meant to kill, he said that actually it was Gorbachev, but he didn’t mind killing anyone else, as he hoped people would carry on his mission, as was also mentioned in the note he had left: “Ladies and gentlemen! I would like to ask you to kill the leaders of the Soviet Union, who have not been elected by people through a universal open vote… I assume that to eliminate great evil, it is appropriate to use a little evil. The great evil was done, as the leaders of the Soviet Union have killed 50 million innocent people in 72 years, and kept others deprived of their freedom, and the living standards of the Soviet people were significantly lower than they could have been with freedom. A little evil for me if the systematic terrorist activity …”
The unfortunate terrorist spent a year in prison and four years in a mental institution .When asked if he felt sorry for what he had done, he said, “I don’t feel sorry for having done that – I feel sorry for having missed my target.” He is now released and runs his own apartment remodeling business.