On August 2 – Airborne Forces Day – Hrodna-based discharges of various years traditionally gathered at the monument to peacekeeping soldiers, from where they marched along Gorky street to Gilibert Park. There they knelt at the eternal flame, took a commemorative photo and then had a rest in an informal atmosphere.
The column was not escorted by traffic police; in general, the policemen were hardly seen. Only a few officers responsible for mass events in the city were on duty in the park.
The only conflict occurred at the very beginning of the event: a former paratrooper found fault in a riot policeman who put on a striped shirt. According to him, a police officer ‘has no right’ to wear it. However, the conflict was resolved without fights and arrests.
Some paratroopers had military symbols of the early 1990s.
“I took my demob badge with a sickle and hammer off my beret,” Ruslan says. The man wanted the one with Pahonya (Pursuit), a historical emblem of Belarusians. “It seems to be more patriotic.”
Breaking from a tradition, Ruslan did not intend to drink alcoholic beverages on this day. On the contrary, he was going to the gym.
One more tradition – paratroopers’ swimming and bathing in fountains – seemed to be at stake when the authorities turned out the fountains in Gilibert Park. Some of them, however, found an alternative way: they washed their heads in water. Who knows, maybe such option will become a compromise satisfying both paratroopers and police.