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The Russians celebrate the end of WWII

By 2nd Lt. Alexandre Barbé
First published in
SFOR Informer#113, May 16, 2001

Alongside 450 soldiers of the 1st PRSAB, many guests from various institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina attended the 56th anniversary of the Allies victory ceremony. The main attraction of the morning: a show by the Special Forces.

Ugljevik - Greeted by cheers of the crowd, Pvt. Alexander Kamenev breaks three bricks on fire with bare hands. He's part of the very famous "Spetsnaz" (Special Forces) and proudly declared after the show that "there are no impossible tasks for us."
For three years now, he's been in the company of these tough guys, trained hard to face any situation.

The display of hand-to-hand combat and neutralisation of an enemy proved it. "We train every day for six hours. But for this show, we trained for eight hours on the last day," he affirmed.
As all of his colleagues, he has served in real combat missions. Although he said he hopes he will never have to use his skills during his tour in Bosnia and Herzegovina, he confided, "I'm here to help support peace."

On April 9, many Russian soldiers came from the camps of Priboj and Vukosavci to attend the ceremony in remembrance of the end of World War II. But they also came to watch the show. That morning's demonstration had been in preparation for more than one week. "With (having) rehearsals almost every evening, but it didn't prevent us from leading our daily missions," specified Ilya Ignashev, a cadet who was part of the organisation.

Of course, among the guests were many dignitaries, such as Maj. Gen. Walter Sharp, commanding Multinational Division - North (MND-N) and H.E. Alexander Grishchenko, ambassador of the Federation of Russia in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

A living remembrance
"There are no families in Russia who did not lose someone in that war. That's why we should always remember it," said Col. Vladimir Demidov, commanding the 1st Peacekeeping Russian Separate Airborne Brigade (PRSAB), whose headquarters are based in Ugljevik. "There's a word in Russian that says that it's much easier to destroy than to restore. That's the reason why we're here: to help rebuild the country and bring it back to 'normal' life," he added.
The ambassador said a few words in the same way. Sharp centred his speech on the co-operation between the four battle groups within MND-N.

While the regimental band played the Russian national anthem, three soldiers crossed the parade square in front of the troops that stood at attention. Then, they placed the traditional spray of flowers on a monument dedicated to those who died during WWII. The Russians call it "the great patriotic war." Thus the ceremony ended, in bright sunshine. All the soldiers, awarded or not, felt the same emotion.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: Russia