The U.S. Embassy in Moscow warned its citizens against attending mass events marking Paratroopers’ Day celebrated in Russia on Thursday to avoid being caught in possible conflicts.
“Although the majority of these gatherings are jovial and peaceful, in recent years there have been incidents of violence, instigated by ultranationalists and directed against foreigners, particularly Central Asians and people from the Caucasus Region,” the embassy said in a statement posted on its website.
The statement notes that “demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence,” adding: “U.S. citizens are therefore urged to avoid the areas of demonstrations if possible, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations.”
Russia marks on Thursday the 82nd anniversary of the creation of its Airborne Forces. Paratroopers’ Day is also celebrated in several other former Soviet republics, including Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
Hundreds of mass events involving current and veteran paratroopers are taking place across Russia. In Moscow, paratroopers wearing traditional light blue berets and light blue and white striped shirts known as telnyashkas gather at downtown Red Square, Alexandrovsky Garden, Pushkinskaya Square, in central Gorky Park and other parks across the capital. They sing patriotic songs, commemorate their fallen comrades and swim in fountains – a traditional Paratroopers’ Day escapade.
More than 2,800 police, military officers and volunteers have been deployed to Moscow streets to maintain public order.
Several incidents involving paratroopers were reported on Thursday.
In Moscow, police arrested three paratroopers who rammed their Tigr armored vehicle into several cars in the capital’s south earlier in the day.
In the Bryansk region near Russia’s western border, a female paratrooper was hospitalized after an unsuccessful demonstration parachute jump at a local airfield. Doctors say she will soon recover.