Moscow’s cold weather has not prevented the country’s bravest from enjoying their vocational holiday and even taking a traditional swim in the capital’s fountains.
Wide celebrations are taking place throughout the country, as thousands of paratroopers gathered in Russia’s parks and venues to mark Paratroopers Day.
The Soviet Airborne Troops, or VDV, are considered to be the elite of the Russian army.
In 1930 it was the Soviet Union that pioneered the concept of airborne troops, when 12 soldiers conducted the first landing not far from Vologda.
Later in 1935, a massive exercise involving about 1,200 paratroopers took place near Kiev. It amazed foreign observers, who became keen to apply this experience to their own armies.
For decades, just a mention of the regiment would send a shiver down Europe’s spine. Now that the Cold War is long over, the VDV are seen as vital in counterterrorism and various peacekeeping missions.
The VDV were always the most battle-efficient and best-equipped forces. Their blue berets can be seen in almost every conflict zone of the world.
Airborne brotherhood works not only in battles but also in civilian life. Just like Vietnam veterans in the US, many retired Russian paratroopers have conquered the highs of political and financial life in Russia.
On August 2, however, the heroes take some time off. The paratroopers put on their striped shirts and blue berets and flood the streets to celebrate. Tradition dictates they meet their fellow servicemen and splash in Moscow’s fountains.