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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Less Rioting, More Honor For Military

This week Muscovites once more managed to survive the traditional Aug. 2 celebration of Paratroopers' Day, but for at least the third year in a row the occasion was marked by ugly violence.


Days set aside to honor various branches of the military have a long tradition in Russia and the Soviet Union, but it seems that more and more the celebrations dishonor the military services rather than create respect among the Russian public.


Drunken servicemen and veterans seem to regard their unit's "day" as an excuse to give vent to prejudice against dark-skinned people, smash windows, overturn kiosks and generally raise hell.


This week the revelers broke into a store on Tverskaya Ulitsa, terrorized passengers in the Metro and beat numerous people. Some 82 were arrested.


That was a slight improvement over last year when 107 were arrested and many kiosks around Kievsky train station were destroyed. The year before, it was the turn of the farmers' market at Yugo-Zapadnaya Metro station where Caucasian vendors were victimized.


The locations may differ but the pattern is the same. And although the paratroopers may be the worst, there have also been incidents on Navy Day, Border Guards' Day and other military-service days.


Often it is not the servicemen who are the main culprits but rather veterans or others looking for an excuse to bash people.


Izvestia this week summed up the situation, saying: "According to the tradition that has developed, anyone who has seen a military airfield or has been forced to make a parachute jump considers it his duty on Aug. 2 to put on a striped shirt, to fill his body with alcohol all the way up to his blue beret and to demonstrate to everyone he meets the unity of the military and the people by hitting them in-between the eyes with his fist."


The time is long overdue for the service branches -- with the assistance of the police -- to do something to discipline their members and their veterans.


The military should regard it as a scandal that its reputation is dragged through the mud and that law-abiding people have to live in fear because of the celebrants.


It can begin by organizing events in Moscow that bring the forces to the capital in a way that honors those who have served in the past. Perhaps parades would bring back unfortunate memories, but demonstrations of the prowess of the service branches in areas other than drinking and marauding would certainly be appropriate.


A little more control on these memorial days might also dispel the impression, by all accounts well-founded, that morale and discipline have hit an all-time low in Russia's still-vast armed forces.