On 7 November 1975, Captain 3rd Rank Valery Sablin seized the Storozhevoy, a Soviet Burevestnik Class missile frigate, and confined the ship’s captain and other officers to the wardroom. Sablin’s plan was to take the ship from the Gulf of Riga north into the Gulf of Finland and to Leningrad, through the Neva River, mooring by the decommissioned cruiser Aurora (a symbol of the Russian Revolution), where he would protest by radio and television against the rampant corruption of the Brezhnev era. He planned to say what many were saying privately: that the revolution and motherland were in danger; that the ruling authorities were up to their necks in corruption, demagoguery, graft, and lies, leading the country into an abyss; that the ideals of Communism had been discarded; and that there was a pressing need to revive Leninist principles of justice (Sablin was a strong believer in Leninist values and considered the Soviet system to have essentially “sold out”).
A junior officer escaped from confinement and radioed for assistance. When the Storozhevoy cleared the mouth of the Gulf of Riga, ten bomber and reconnaissance airplanes and thirteen warships were in pursuit. Several bombs were dropped in front of and behind the ship, as well as cannon fire. Storozhevoy steering was damaged and she eventually came to a stop. The pursuing vessels then close in, and the frigate was boarded by Soviet marine commandos. By then, however, Sablin had been shot in his knee and detained by his own crew, who had also unlocked the captain and the other captive officers.
Sablin was arrested and, in May 1976, tried before a military court. He was found guilty of “treason to the Motherland.” Although this crime usually carried a 15-year prison sentence, Sablin was executed on 3 August 1976. His second-in-command during the mutiny, Alexander Shein, received an eight-year prison sentence. The other mutineers were freed.
In 1994, the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court reviewed the sentences with a possibility of posthumous rehabilitation. The court partially rehabilitated Sablin rather than fully exonerating him and Shein (who had by that time served his sentence)