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Antonov as Vakulinchuk

Artillery Quartermaster Grigory Meketovich Vakulinchuk (1877– 14/27 June 1905) was a Ukrainian sailor in the Russian Navy. He was born in Velki Koroventsi (now in Zhytomyr Oblast). He served on the Russian battleship Potemkin.[1] He was one of nine children. He and his family worked in a sugar factory until the navy conscripted him. He learned to read in radical study circles. He became a member of a sailor patrol in Sevastopol so he could monitor radical meetings while pretending to bring them to light. Once he actually turned away two officers after saying he'd arrested a meeting of radicals the two men had found.[2]

On 10/23 June 1905, he had attended a meeting of Tsentralka (the revolutionary sailors' organisation) and had argued in favour of an uprising: "To delay means to fail the revolution. At this moment, everywhere, workers and peasants are striking out. We must join the common fight."[3] His powerful voice and long black moustache added to the effect of his words.[citation needed] On 11/24 June he convinced the Tsentralka leaders to let the Potemkin lead the Black Sea uprising. After the crew discovered their meat was maggot-ridden, Vakulinchuk called for a boycott rather than a full uprising.

Chief Officer Giliarovsky was using marines to threaten the sailors into eating the meat. Vakulinchuk retreated behind a gun turret then handed out guns from the armoury when he saw 30 sailors were going to be executed. He aimed at Giliarovsky, but hit Lieutenant Neupokoyev instead. Giliarovsky shot him in the chest.[4] He managed to disarm Giliarovsky when a petty officer shot him from behind. After the fight, he tried to stand but fell into the sea after which he was rescued and sent to the infirmary. His friend Afanasi Matushenko then led the mutiny.[citation needed] The red flag the sailors hoisted had been hidden on board by Vakulinchuk. Vakulinchuk had thought the mutiny premature because he wanted to wait until they were with the fleet. His funeral in Odessa two days later turned into a political demonstration. On his deathbed he asked for his savings (80 roubles) to be split between the sailors and his father. His last words were: "Don't throw it away Afanasi."[5]

His death and funeral are important incidents in Sergei Eisenstein's film Battleship Potemkin, where he was played by Aleksandr Antonov.


  1. Neal Bascomb, Red Mutiny, p. 44.
  2. Neal Bascomb, Red Mutiny, p. 46.
  3. Neal Bascomb, Red Mutiny, p. 22.
  4. Neal Bascomb, Red Mutiny, p. 84.
  5. Neal Bascomb, Red Mutiny, p. 104.


  • Bascomb, Neal (2007). Red Mutiny: Eleven Fateful Days on the Battleship Potemkin. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 

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