The celebration of real men
| Photo: Sgt.
Maj. Valery Kovalenko
Sgt. Artem Bezborodov
Sgt. Maxim Zakharov
First published in
SFOR Informer#159, March 6, 2003
The Russian military contingent in Bosnia and Herzegovina
(BiH) has a rather rich seven-year history. Their story began
in 1996, Jan. 5, when the 1st Russian Separate Airborne Brigade,
1,500 soldiers strong, deployed in BiH. In the year 2000,
the national flag replaced the banner of the unit. That's
why every Russian soldier here assumes the responsibilities
of a deserved representative of his country. It was the case
on Feb. 23, the Day of the Motherlands Defenders.
Ugljevik - Originally, Russian forces were located in five
camps (Ugljevik, Priboj, Simin Han, Vukocavci and Spasoevici).
One year later, the area of responsibility was given to the
command of infantry troops from Saint Petersburg's military
region in Russia. Nowadays, the Russian Military Contingent
(RMC) is comprised of 350 individuals. The Headquarters are
currently stationed in camp Ugljevik. A few observers are
also located in Simin Han. The Area of Responsibility of the
Russians includes mainly the central and northeastern part
of Republika Srpska (RS), with some parts of the Federation.
The total area is 1,750 sq. kilometres. The slogan of the
RMC is 'Honor for oneself, Glory for our Motherland'.
An original tradition
During the accomplishment of their mission, several Russian
soldiers died for peace and for the Motherland. They stay
in the hearts of their compatriots, friends and local citizens.
All of those soldiers have been posthumously awarded the Medal
The Russian army celebrates the Day of Motherland Defender
on Feb. 23. This is the date of the foundation of the Soviet
Army and the day of victory over the German troops in the
battles of Pskov and Narva in 1942.
The celebration of this date is dear to every soldier. Cadet
Andrei Lubimov underlined: "I'm proud to be of service
in the Russian Armed Forces. I'm proud to be a defender and
to represent interests of my country for the peacekeeping
mission in BiH." Sgt. Artem Bezborodov agrees: "For
me, the Day of Defender is my professional holiday, the day
when I feel a strong unity with my nation, my unit, my friends.
I'm really proud to be here and to serve my Homeland."
The celebration began with the guard of honor carrying the
national flag of the Russian Federation. After the national
anthem and in reply to the speech of Col. Sergey Shakurin,
RMC commander, all the lined-up staff thrice cried out "Hooray!"
This exclamation made all the guests attending the ceremony
feel the solemnity of this celebration. There were representatives
from multinational contingents of SFOR, International Organisations
and members of the Armed Forces in BiH.
The traditional interest of the spectators then focused on
the show of the reconnaissance platoon, commanded by 1st Lt.
Alexey Smelov. The aim of this demonstration was to show that
highly trained military specialists could play a great role
in combat. "Russian contingent in BiH is hardly over
three hundred, that is less by ten of Americans and half the
quantity of Poles. Nevertheless, every Russian soldier can
demonstrate wonders of strength, courage, decisiveness and
self-sacrifice," emphasised Col. Yury Yurov.
The Reconnaissance platoon, led by 1st Sgt. Yury Derbenev,
conducted an ostensible capture of a truck, so that further
anti-terrorist operation could be executed. The most effective
method of the capture is the attack.
It happened in a flash: the sentry was disarmed, Pvt. Stanislav
Ryabinin took away the barrier and with its help reached the
roof, where he destroyed the weapon emplacement.
While the firing continued, Capt. Denis Denisov and Derbenev
climbed down along the wall of the three-storied building:
another weapon emplacement departed its life.
First Sgt. Talai Abadanov, Sgt. Arthur Agriyanc and Sgt. Bladimir
Volnukhin assaulted the terrorists, and at the very same moment
the cover group destroyed the Armoured Personel Carrier vehicle.
Their bravery is the result of several years of intense, complicated
training and not to be taken lightly.
For instance, Abadanov has been fighting for almost ten years,
in Tadzhikistan and Abkhazia among others. He said: "I'm
the third in my family, who was awarded with 'the Medal of
Honour'. The first one belonged to my grandfather, who got
it during the Great Patriotic war [Russian appellation for
WW II]; the second belonged to my father - for participating
in the Afghanistan war. I received the third in the Army sniper's
competition in 2001. Now I'm eager to teach shooting. Actually,
my lessons have already saved many soldiers' lives."
Abadanov has also been rewarded with 'the medal of Suvorov'
and 'the medal of Service for Motherland'. First Sgt. Denis
Krilov has been rewarded with the same medal.
Pvt. Vitaly Dolgopolov, from the Special Forces, who has passed
the war from Buinaks to Itum-Kale in Chechnya, is also rewarded
with 'the Order for Courage'. Ryabinin was at the same place
and was awarded with 'the medal of Zhukov'.
'The Medal of Suvorov' was awarded to Sgt Alexander Naumenko.
Just like his comrade Adrei Gundorin, he has served in the
intelligence units of the Special Forces in Transcaucasia.
Both Derbenev and Volnukhin served in the airborne troops
for more than one year. Three other RMC soldiers served in
Special Forces and Airborne - Sgt Alexander Kuzmin, Agriyanc
and Pvt. Sergey Zadunaysky.
With and without weapons
After the actions of the whole unit, the soldiers showed their
individual skills in the fight with weapons and without. Capt.
Yusi Viinemyaki, from the Finnish CIMIC (Civil-Military Co-operation),
and Col. Nedad Garich, commander of the 308th Infantry Brigade
of the RS Army, were the first ones to burst into applause
after the wonderful fight of Abadanov with an invisible opponent.
Admiring Americans seemed to be very much impressed when Agriyanc,
a fellow from St.Petersburg who was born in the former Republic
of Uzbekistan, made the split after the jump, leaning on the
ground just with the help of two bayonets' tips.
Then followed the digging tools, pole, num-chucks, man to
man fighting and two versus five. The crowd stood motionless,
listening to the gun shoots. One versus three! Five seconds
later Dolgopolov bent, as he won.
The crowd shouted for the first time when the scene 'Num-chucks
versus Kalashnikov Machine-gun' was held. The graceful attack
of the soldier has been broken with the sudden burst of fire
"No one but Us" - the Airborne motto has carefully
been kept in RMC. The demonstration of the strength of the
mind of Russian soldiers, always ready to perform the mission,
rounded up the show. Burning bricks, tiles, bottles and planks
were smashed by strong punches.
The strongest head of RMC' was Kuzmin, who broke eight tiles
at a time; thereby he has improved the last year's record
of six tiles. A pack of tiles was broken on Kuzmin's and Gundorin's
heads - and after that they did feel all right. Sgt. Denis
Krilov laid down on broken bottles and his comrades throws
bayonets into his stomach. When he stood up, everybody could
see: there were no scratches on his back.
The next morning, the front page of 'Stars and Stripes' showed
a picture: the bottle, filled with water, is smashed to pieces
by a strong kick of Abadanov. In the adjacent column the photo
of Mike Tyson appeared; they have much in common indeed.
Russians did not want to scare anyone by demonstrating their
abilities. They just did their best to show what a Russian
soldier can do. A professional one, the one, which is the
spirit of the Army.
Nations of SFOR: Russia