Updated at 18:07,08-09-2017

Belarusians Guard their Borders Belarus Photo Digest

BelarusDigest

On 23 February Belarus and other post-Soviet countries celebrated the Day of Defenders of the Fatherland and the Day of Armed Forces. A minute of silence commemorates those who died defending their country.

Siarhej Leskiec visited the defenders of Belaruss border with Lithuania at Losha Border Guard Post in Astraviec region.

Border troops also known as the Belarusian Green Berets have been considered the elite of the armed forces since the Soviet times. Lukashenka and both of his older sons served in the border guard, according to the president's official biography.

Border troops operate along most of Belaruss perimeter, with the exception of the 959 km stretch of the border with Russia. One of the busiest sections is the border with Poland and Lithuania, due to the high rate of smuggling incidents.

Following the escalation of the Ukrainian conflict, Belarus also strengthened border control on the Ukrainian side. On 17 February, a group of twenty individuals with horses attempted to illegally cross the border from the Ukrainian side. The border guards opened fire but the intruders escaped.

Belarusians Guard their Borders  Belarus Photo Digest


The Belarusian-Lithuanian border was first established in 1990. Then the borderline split a few villages into two parts. For example, village Pickuny is situated in Ashmiany region of Belarus, but its second half, known as Norviliškės, lies on the Lithuanian side. The locals are still getting struggling the idea of the border in their village.

Belarusians Guard their Borders  Belarus Photo Digest


The Losha Border Guard Post monitors a 30-kilometer stretch of the Belarusian-Lithuanian border in Astraviec region. Its barracks were built by the Union State of Russia and Belarus. "The Motherland's Border is Sacred" says the big board in front of the border guard post.

Belarusians Guard their Borders  Belarus Photo Digest


In continuation of a Soviet tradition, border guards are subordinate to the KGB. Other types of troops are subordinate to the Department of Defence.

Belarusians Guard their Borders  Belarus Photo Digest


The guards protect the border round the clock. Some guards stay hidden watching the area, sometimes up to a few hours in one place, while others walk along the border.

Belarusians Guard their Borders  Belarus Photo Digest


Border guards carry automatic guns, with 50 bullets each, as well as a pistols, handcuffs, night vision binoculars and radios.

Belarusians Guard their Borders  Belarus Photo Digest


Service dogs help monitor the area.

Belarusians Guard their Borders  Belarus Photo Digest


Border guards regularly take care of their weapons to make sure they are in proper working condition.

Belarusians Guard their Borders  Belarus Photo Digest


As the guards change, they clean their weapons and surrender them into storage.

Belarusians Guard their Borders  Belarus Photo Digest


Every guard post includes a room for "psychological relaxation" with a TV and a chessboard.

Belarusians Guard their Borders  Belarus Photo Digest


In their spare time, servicemen can borrow books from the guard post's own library.

Belarusians Guard their Borders  Belarus Photo Digest


The border guards are off duty and are repairing their uniforms before they go to bed.

Belarusians Guard their Borders  Belarus Photo Digest


The Belarusian Army is based on the principle of territorial defence. Soldiers are expected to better defend the area where they come from. Conscription into the border guard follows a different logic.

Belarusians Guard their Borders  Belarus Photo Digest


The Belarusian-Lithuanian border is protected by the servicemen from Mazyr and Mahiliou in order to minimise the temptations of locals to smuggle, accept bribes, or helping their relatives.

Belarusians Guard their Borders  Belarus Photo Digest


Border guards at the Losha Border Guard Post were all drafted from other parts of Belarus. Local contractors are hired only for cooking, dog handling, and driving.

Belarusians Guard their Borders  Belarus Photo Digest

Belarusians Guard their Borders  Belarus Photo Digest


A Belarusian flag, accompanied by coat of arms, a framed diploma, and an orthodox icon adore the walls of this commander's office.