The Presidentail Regiment – An Elite Russian Military Unit
Post №1 near the Eternal Fire by the Grave of the Unknown Soldier was founded on the 12th of December 1997 to honor the memory of 27 million soviet people fallen during the Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany. Since that time there was not even a day, the Honor Guards skipped their honorable duty. One day follows after another, guards changing, but the ceremony remains as firm as the sun rise – it repeats every day and starts exactly at 08:00 in the morning. Every hour till 20:00 new pair of Honor Guards comes in a grandly Kremlin Step to change their predecessors. How do they manage to stay motionless one hour long by sun, rain and snow? Looking at them you think about Steadfast Tin Soldier from the fairy tale.
Two motionless standing soldiers – always in sight – are the symbol of the President’s Regiment and its visiting card. What is hidden from the view of the curios viewers? How does this elite closed regiment live in reality? President’s Regiment obeys only the Head of the Government – the President himself and belongs to the Federal Guard Service of the Russian Federation. More than 1000 soldiers serve in the Regiment. Their main duties are guarding the Kremlin, participating at the highest level activities and honor guarding. Only thoroughly selected young men are admitted to serve in this elite Regiment. Soldier of the President’s Regiment has to be perfect in everything: he has to have both an ideal health and the ideal biography. Six months before the induction into military service, the representatives of the President’s Regiment drive around the country searching for suitable candidates. There should be no drives to the police, education not less than 11 classes and obligatory full family. Psychological statement of candidates is checked as thoroughly as their physical fitness. For example, there should not be any tattoos – their presence is counted to be a sign of impulsiveness and lack of stability. Besides that, the appearance is one of the main criterions to be accepted in the 1st Regiment of the country. All soldiers should be best of the best with the height not less than 175cm and not more than 190cm; no scars, birth-marks or any other defects on the face and Slavic type of appearance. Finally, only 200 candidates will be accepted to serve in the Regiment.
Before starting the honor guarding, new taken soldiers go through the six months training period. Every Regiment’s squadron has its own training program. Perhaps, the hardest training waits the soldiers who were enlisted to the Special Honor Guard Service. All of them go the hard way to be perfect in Kremlin’s Step and motionless standing at the Post №1. Inside of the Kremlin there is a model of the Post №1 where future guards sharpen skills. Honor Guards make exactly 108 steps along the Alley of Glory to come to the Post №1. Kremlin’s Step is the hardest step in the world and it is not used in any other country. Kremlin’s Step differs from the ordinary quick time step that has 120 steps in a minute. Kremlin’s Step is two times slower – only 60 steps a minute and a soldier should raise his leg so high that it makes an angle of almost 90 degrees. That is nearly a ballet on the parade ground. After new soldiers have learnt how to marsh a Kremlin’s Step they learn how to move synchronous with another soldier. Every Honor Guard has his own partner and stays with him in a pair as long as he services in the Regiment. If the partner gets ill, the other Guard from the pair also does not go to his duty. Soldiers in one pair should have equal height and similar appearance.
Every six months new 200 soldiers go the hard way to become Kremlin’s Guards – a proud title they will have all their life long as the one who once went to the Post №1 by the Eternal Fire had written his name into the historical Chronicle of Moscow.