A completely insane photo gallery of special forces training in Belarus
This article originally appeared at Business Insider
The Agence France-Presse recently tweeted a couple of photos of what can only be described as excruciating displays of strength and focus by Belarus Interior Ministry special forces.
A Belarus Interior Ministry special forces soldier demonstrates his ability to sustain a blow pic.twitter.com/LS838TSf67— Agence France-Presse (@AFP)24 февраля 2014
PHOTO: A Belarus special forces officer goes "Full Metal Jacket" on his soldier. (By AFP) pic.twitter.com/p7v90lnsyc— Anup Kaphle (@AnupKaphle)25 февраля 2014
Belarus, sometimes referred to as the last dictatorship of Europe, has firmly resisted attempts to modernize from the Soviet period. Instead, the country remains fiercely militaristic, hearkening back to the days of Stalin. It is in Moscow's sphere of influence and shares a border with Ukraine.
The Interior Ministry of Belarus oversees the country's security forces. Soldiers of the ministry often go through incredible training to prove their worth as they attempt to achieve the rank of Red Beret.
These photos give you an idea of the punishing practices Belarusian special forces go through:
Soldiers must pass a series of grueling physical tests if they wish to become a Red Beret, such as live fight tests.
Training for the Red Beret also requires the completion of multiple obstacle courses in adverse conditions.
Generally, tests are done without any safety measures in place. Here, a soldier jumps over a burning tire.
The obstacle courses are just as much about endurance as agility. Here, soldiers pop in and out of smoking concrete craters.
Orthodox Christianity plays a major role for the Belarusian army. Here, a trainee marks the Epiphany by jumping into a freezing lake east of Minsk.
Soldiers often take part in religious observances during training and drills. Here, they kiss an Orthodox icon.
Although most soldiers are deeply Orthodox, the pagan holiday Maslenitsa also plays a prominent role in the military.
Feats of strength are a primary component of Maslenitsa.
Interior Ministry soldiers in the put on shows to display their physical prowess.
Aside from tests of strength, soldiers also take part in agility demonstrations.
Here, soldiers display their endurance and tenacity by holding formation in the freezing weather for Maslenitsa.
In Soviet style, Defender of the Fatherland Day is also a major event in Belarus. Here, a soldier throws a log as part of a competition.
As part of the celebrations for Defender of the Fatherland Day, a soldier breaks a concrete slab balanced on a recruit's chest with a sledgehammer.
The work pays off. Aside from military duties, soldiers of the interior ministry routinely help bring in the harvest at state collective farms, and receive part of the harvest in turn.