|Scan of Top Gear magazine page showing mysterious submarine|
One of today's popular military news stories out of Russia was the "accidental" leak of a picture of a rarely seen piece of naval hardware: the "Losharik" nuclear-powered special-purpose submarine. The boat gets its name from a 1971 Soviet stop-motion film bearing the same name. The lead character in the children's film was named Losharik because it was a horse ("loshad") formed from balls ("sharik") used by a circus juggler (watch the 10-minute movie here).
|Losharik - the juggling man's horse|
Today's story first surfaced last Friday when a scan of page 149 from a past or future edition of the Russian version of Top Gear magazine was posted to the internet. When queried, the poster stated he wasn't sure which edition the page came from, but he had heard that Top Gear's office in Moscow had been visited on Friday by some government officials - possibly from the Ministry of Defense. After the story was picked up by the Russian press today, the source went back and deleted his posts and the original image. But it was too late as more than a hundred Russian and foreign news sites had already republished the picture.
It's not clear when or where the photo was taken. The article's title, "Water Spray of the White [Sea?]," would seem to suggest the White Sea was, in fact, the location. The background does look very similar to other pictures taken from the beach adjacent to Severodvinsk, on the southeastern corner of the White Sea.
Given his background, the picture really could have been taken at any time over the past decade. A local Severodvinsk photographer believes the photo used in the Top Gear article was taken nine years ago. It's unclear if he knows that to be true, or if he, too, noted Ushanov's work history and guessed it was taken while he was working for Top Gear magazine between 2004 and 2010. One final possible clue to the photo's date is the vehicle being discussed in the article: the Mercedes-Benz GL 450. According to Wikipedia, the GL 450 was not sold until 2006.
It's amazing what the press will pick up on a slow news day.