On August 2, twenty thousand Muscovites participated in the capital city’s celebration of Paratroopers’ Day. The rapid response troops, which were founded in 1930, now number about 35 thousand across Russia, and are also known as the “blue berets.” In August each year, however, they are associated with drunken dips in the fountains of Gorky Park and VDNKh, and with various other forms of public misconduct. So that they may roam wildly without causing much damage, Moscow authorities customarily close off Red Square and install thousands of policemen around the city. “They have earned this right by defending the interests of our Motherland,” said Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov in his congratulatory message, “the Paratroopers’ slogan is: No one but us!”
– maria antonova
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