Independence Day parade: Russia’s ‘green men’, military weaponry in Minsk (photos, video)

Russian troopers, Belarusian ‘partisans’, Iskander missile systems which can carry nuclear warheads, sportsmen, dancers, a human vase … Yesterday’s parade aimed to show off the Belarusian army’s strength and benefits from the union with Russia.

{movie}In Stalin’s style: A ‘human’ vase for Lukashenka|right|17285{/movie}

Yet again President Aliaksandr Lukashenka appeared in military uniform bearing a strong resemblance to that of a Soviet Marshal, but there is no such rank in today’s Belarusian army. There was Belarus’s state emblem on his shoulder stripes, but not a single existing document authorises such kind of uniform. By the way, Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s military rank is lieutenant colonel.

{movie}Independence Day parade in Minsk: Old military vehicles|right|17283{/movie}

For the first time, Russia’s Air Force deployed its aircraft for participation in Belarus’ Independence Day parade, namely, Ka-52 attack helicopters and Su-34 bombers. Troopers of the 76th Guards Air Assault Division also took part in the event. Apart from aircraft, the parade featured Russia’s Iskander and S-400 missile systems and GAZ Tigr, a multipurpose, all-terrain infantry mobility vehicle. Russia used ‘Tigrs’ during the annexation of Crimea.

In 2008 Lukashenka stated that Belarus might purchase Iskanders or lease them within the context of military cooperation with Russia, which was used as a means of political pressure on the EU.

{movie}Iskander missile systems in Minsk.|right|17284{/movie}


The official Independence day is celebrated on July 3, on the day of liberation of the Belarusian capital from German invaders. Such decision was taken by the republican referendum held in 1996. Earlier the Independence day had been commemorated on July 27, its celebration being coincided with the day of passing the Declaration of Sovereignty of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1990.

The opposition does not recognise the official Independence Day. According to them it is the March 25, 1918 that should be taken as the starting point of the Belarusian independence. On March 25, 1918 the Provisional government (Rada) proclaimed the independence of the Belarusian National Republic that came into existence at the end of the First World War, when Bolshevik forces left Minsk and the city was occupied by German troops. After the Red Army re-entered Minsk, the Communist government replaced the Rada; its members had to emigrate. Opposition activists and civil society actors celebrate the anniversary of the proclamation of the BNR annually.

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