The Media Mirror – this weekend’s press

Russia’s Defenders of the Fatherland Day is at the centre of Russian newspapers' coverage this weekend.

February 23 is celebrated throughout Russia. In Soviet times, doing military service for at least two years was the honourable duty of every male citizen. OGONYOK has an old picture of a proud young man who smiles after completing an exercise.

Most Russian men are reserve soldiers. But first we have to honour those on active duty and in training, those who wear the Russian military uniform writes KRASNAYA ZVEZDA, the Red Star, Russia’s Armed Forces newspaper.

PROFILE quotes President Putin who said in a recent speech that the world is not getting easier to live in, rather more complex and dangerous. So Russia needs a new strategy for the development of its armed forces till the year 2020, taking into account the new challenges and threats to the country.

KRASNAYA ZVEZDA has an interview with Anatoly Serdyukov, Russia’s Minister of Defence. He says that in 2007 the Russian armed forces stepped up tactical training. A series of exercises were held, including those with foreign partners. The minister says making the Russian army an even more effective force than now is the task for 2008.

The same paper has an article by presidential candidate Vladimir Zhirinovsky who donned his reserve colonel’s uniform for the occasion. He says historically every war in our past started with an enemy attack on Russia, not vice versa. For centuries the Russian army – whether Red or White – was a guardian of peace in the world – and that it is today as well.

And PROFILE again. Nineteen years ago the last Russian troops left Afghanistan. Veterans remember the war and analyse its impact on them and their country. Colonel Boris Podoprigora writes that every February 15 the Soviet Union comes alive for a few minutes when thousands of veterans in the former Soviet republics simultaneously drink the third toast – for the fallen soldiers.