Russian Special Forces Day is a professional holiday of the Special Purpose Forces, or Spetsnaz, celebrated annually on October 24. The history of these units dates back to March 1918, when during the Civil War the Red Army created a special intelligence department mainly engaged in reconnaissance and diversionary work behind enemy lines.
The modern Spetsnaz carries out anti-terrorist operations, searching out and detaining especially dangerous and armed criminals, dismantling of criminal groups, hostage release and other perilous operations.
Soldiers of the Central Military District’s Special Purpose Units pass the tests for the right to wear a blue beret at the Samara training center. Blue berets are traditionally worn in the Russian Airborne Forces (paratroopers, or VDV).
A Special Forces soldier carries a baby after a school was liberated from militants in Beslan, North Ossetia. The Beslan school siege started on September 1, 2004, and lasted three days. Over 1,100 people were taken hostage, including 777 children; at least 385 people died in Russia's worst ever terrorist attack.
A soldier of the Special Purpose unit of the Federal National Guard Troops Service is seen during a ceremony, held after trials for the right to wear the maroon and dark green berets at the training center "Gorny" in the Novosibirsk region. Maroon and dark green berets are worn by members of elite Ministry of Internal Affairs Spetsnaz units.
A Russian special police soldier (L) carries an injured colleague as two soldiers and two women take cover behind the APC during the Beslan School rescue operation, northern Ossetia, September 3, 2004.
Soldiers of the Central Military District’s Spetsnaz hold blue berets and blue-and-white striped vests after passing the qualification tests for the right to wear a blue beret at the training center’s base in the Samara region. Blue berets are traditionally worn in the Russian Airborne Forces (paratroopers, or VDV).
Soldiers of the Alpha special troop control the entrance to the Supreme Council building in October 1993. Alpha was one of the Soviet and Russian special forces units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Soldiers of the Central Military District’s Special Purpose Units pass the trials for the right to wear a blue beret at the training center’s base in the Samara region. Blue berets are traditionally worn in the Russian Airborne Forces (paratroopers, or VDV).
Soldiers of the special reconnaissance platoon of the 45th regiment of the Russian Airborne Forces during an operation to identify and destroy Chechen militant camps in a mountain gorge at the Bass River in the Vedensky District of Chechnya.
Spetsnaz soldiers prepare to storm a hospital in Budyonnovsk in the Stavropol Krai. The Budyonnovsk hospital hostage crisis took place on June 14-19, 1995, when a group of Chechen separatists attacked the southern Russian city of Budyonnovsk, killing 129 people and injuring 415.
Russian Special Forces officers descend on a Russian coast guard "seized" ship during joint Russian-Korean maneuvers in the Pacific Ocean near the far eastern Russian port of Vladivostok on August 2, 2007.