On 1 September 1911 (14 September in the Gregorian calendar) Russian prime minister Pyotr Stolypin attended a performance of the opera, The Tale of Tsar Saltan, at the Kiev Opera House. Tsar Nicholas II was also in attendance. The opera was about the betrayal of a Tsar by the older sisters of his wife.
During the intermission a man named Dmitri Bogrov approached Stolypin and drew a revolver. Two shots rang out and Stolypin dropped, a small spray of blood emerging from him. Bogrov was quickly wrestled to the ground and disarmed. Upon examination the prime minister was alive. He had a gunshot wound in his arm and received two broken ribs from the impact of the second bullet into his bulletproof vest.
How Bogrov entered the opera house with a weapon while the Tsar was in attendance was a mystery, a mystery few seemed interested in solving. The would-be-assassin was hanged three days after the attempt and further investigations were stopped by order of the Tsar. A supposed anarchist terrorist was able to get close enough to possibly kill the Tsar and that same Tsar seemed uninterested in determining if anyone else was involved or how those sworn to protect him could allow an armed man so close. The quick execution of the terrorist and the lack of investigation was troubling.
The Prime Minister received the message - even if one wasn't being sent. He felt that it was not a random anarchist who tried to kill him but someone in the government wanted him dead. Just as in the opera the Tsaritsa and her son were betrayed and nearly killed in a barrel at sea he became more subtle in his drive for reforms and in the pursuit of rebels, but remained unpopular with many of the other ministers and military leaders. He would eventually resign in disgust with the outbreak of the Great War in November 1912.
No magic swan arrived to keep Russia out of the war.
A possible timeline I'm developing where World War I begins a couple of years early. I hope to post more in the coming weeks to see how things develop. If you have any ideas or opinions please feel free to leave a comment.
1) Some information on the assassination of Pyotr Stolpin over at HistoryToday.com
2) A synopsis of opera "The Tale of Tsar Saltan" - this is the opera that The Flight of the Bumblebee came from. Also of note is that I've been subjected to that particular music countless times thanks to it being the theme for the old Green Hornet radio program!
3) A YouTube clip of the music of the opera I listened to for part of the time I was working on this post
4) Image of Pyotr Stolypin from Wikimedia Commons - public domain in the USA due to age.