Who knew Alby was a Russian Paratrooper? I always thought he was in the Mexican Infantry.
City governments across Russia drained the water from municipal fountains Thursday, hoping to keep drunken paratroopers from drowning in them.
Aug. 2 is Paratrooper Day in Russia and every year more than one million burly active and retired soldiers take to the streets in their signature blue berets and striped undershirts to mark the occasion, often by combining large quantities of vodka with plunges into fountains.
Russian President Vladimir Putin seemed to call for restraint Thursday, but with a barely concealed smile, during public remarks to paratroopers in Ulyanovsk. “I hope that Paratrooper Day will pass without excesses, and that your colleagues will behave themselves adequately, at least without gross violations of public order,” he said.
Officially, the day is celebrated with cadet marches and memorials. Unofficially, the elite troops start drinking at sunrise, then head off to city parks to brawl. Migrant workers from Central Asia have been targets of violence on past Paratrooper Days, and the Federation of Migrants of Russia issued a public warning to avoid parks, train stations and commuter trains, and anywhere else paratroopers might be celebrating on Thursday. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow similarly sent out an announcement, saying that while the majority of the celebrations are “jovial and peaceful,” Americans in Russia would be wise to steer clear of “any large crowds and public gatherings that lack enhanced security measures.”
There were no serious reports of violence Thursday. Two drunken revellers were arrested in Moscow after they slammed a Tiger – a vehicle similar to a U.S. Humvee – with a mock machine gun strapped to the roof into a car on a Moscow highway. Moscow city authorities also distributed several tons of watermelons in a downtown park at no charge; paratroopers had been known to steal them in the past.