The Belarus army is a conscript force, burdened by ancient equipment and traditions instilled by the Stalinist regime of the 20th century.
The following photos were made public by Alexander Mihalkovich who introduced them to the web at large along with a string of tweets from a Belarusian conscript called Max (not his real name).
Max's intention was to use his time in service to film army life, but it was difficult even keeping a point-and-shoot in his pocket to take the following shots.
Life for recruits is harsh, according to Max, and the officers above them rule with a draconian vigor that's almost as shocking as Max's claim that his salary amounted to only about $16. Max says he was with the 5th Spetsnaz Airborne brigade, which we were unable to find reference to after 2008.
When we wrote Alexander Mihalkovich, the publisher, he responded with the following pictures, titles, and this explanation:
The Belarusian army considers itself as a successor to the Soviet army. It maintains the same archaic traditions between soldiers and officers. Equipment dates back to the 1960-70’s, already out-of-date, is still used. The soldiers (even the ones from Special Forces) just clean the grounds of the Military Unit, repair old barracks and equipment most of the time. Army life seems like a children labor camp or even prison. Army customs are based on old-timer soldiers dominating over recruits, forced to take up all the work at the Unit. Young soldiers are able to tolerate all the humiliations and hard work only because of army archaic traditions, the thought of them dominating over new recruits in future and teenager idealism.
Every man of 18-27 year old has to serve 548 days in the army. Many people wonder if it is necessary and whether young men benefit, or it is just a waste their time. But the majority of the patriarchal society thinks that the army toughens up young boys and makes them real men.