On February 23 Russia celebrates the unofficial holiday of all men – the Day of the Defender of the Fatherland. This holiday evolved from its Soviet predecessor, the Day of the Red Army and Navy. Men’s Day was officially proclaimed a state holiday in 2002. It will soon be followed with a special day for all women, March 8 – the International Women’s Day.
Russia’s top politicians will lay wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to pay tribute to all those men who fell defending their native country. Flowers will be also laid at the monument to Marshal Georgy Zhukov – the legendary winner of many World War II battles.
President Vladimir Putin congratulated all servicemen, military officials and war veterans of Russia on the eve of the holiday at a special ceremony in the Kremlin. “Our army today is first and foremost a community of professionally trained people of strong will, who realize the importance of the military profession for our country and society,” Putin said. “We must thank them for all risks which they take during the army service,” the commander-in-chief said.
The president looked back at nation’s history, which, as he said, is filled with “many pages telling stories of courage and heroism displayed by the country’s defenders.” “We honor Russian military traditions that were born in fierce battles for our native land and liberating crusades for independence of other peoples of the planet. Those traditions became the spiritual core for both the army and the entire nation. Russia is a peaceful state that treats its partners with respect. We do not threaten anyone, nor do we harbor any aggressive plans. However, the significant conflict potential can still be found in today’s world. We may see certain nations ignoring international rights and using their military power to meet their own interests. This is happening at the time when terrorism, extremism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction poses a real threat to stability in the world. That is why, security for Russia and its citizens can only be guaranteed by means of strengthening the national defense potential and having state-of-the-art army” the Russian president said.
Opinion polls show that most Russians are certain the national armed forces are capable of defending the country from any aggressor. About 67 percent of the polled share this opinion, the center for national public opinion studies VCIOM said.
Based on materials of Russian news agencies
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov