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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Are Kremlin Stars In the Descendant?

Red star or red faces?

Komsomolskaya Pravda reported Wednesday that President Boris Yeltsin was going to take down a red star from a Kremlin tower and replace it with a double-headed eagle.

The newspaper, quoting "reliable sources," said that this would take place on Thursday at 4 P.M. It said that the Beklemishevskaya Tower overlooking the river had been selected to give crowds across the river a grandstand view and the president a chance to see if he wanted the other five star-topped towers to look the same way.

The Moscow streets would be cleared, the paper added, and a helicopter and giant crane would be mobilized to erect the new symbol, made of a copper-nickel alloy.

When asked, Alexander Gusev, deputy commandant of the Kremlin, said Wednesday that he knew nothing about the star-removal ceremony.

"The information is untrue. Nothing will happen," he said. "No decisions have been taken.

"Maybe they are preparing early for April Fool's Day," he speculated.

He turned out to be right -- although at least one Western news agency picked up the report without realizing it was a joke.

The hoax report, in fact, played artfully with history. The Italian architect who built the tower in 1487 was named Marco Ruffo. The "author" of the Komsomolskaya Pravda article was one Mark Ruffov and the crane he mentioned was called a "Skiyaki-1487."

It was quite easy to lend credence to the report. Six of the 20 Kremlin towers are topped by the huge illuminated five-pointed stars, which were put up in 1937. Last October a copy of a draft decree circulated in Moscow which ordered the removal of the stars and the reburial of Lenin.

Presidential chief of staff Sergei Filatov confirmed the draft but said Yeltsin would proceed "step by step," starting with the reburial of the tsar's family, expected some time this year.

One more question: Why was Komsomolskaya Pravda celebrating April Fool's Day two days early?

"But it's tomorrow!" said a photographer at the paper, who had been bothered all morning by news agencies.

Then he looked at the date.