TASS-FACTBOX. Russia annually celebrates February 23 as Defender of the Fatherland Day
The occasion dates back to the first years of the existence of the Russian Soviet Republic and the history of its withdrawal from the First World War. On January 28, 1918, Vladimir Lenin, Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic signed a decree "On Forced Recruitment into the Workers 'and Peasants' Red Army." On February 23, the Red Army began to accept volunteers into its ranks.
Since 1923, February 23 has marked Red Army and Navy Day. In 1946-1992, the holiday was celebrated as Soviet Army and Navy Day. In 1993-1995, it was celebrated as the Day of Defenders of the Fatherland. In 1993-1995, it was celebrated as the Defenders of the Fatherland Day
In 2006, the plural was removed from the name of the holiday, and it became Defender of the Fatherland Day.
In 2002, February 23 was declared a non-working day for the first time (according to the new Labor Code of the Russian Federation signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on December 30, 2001).
On Defender of the Fatherland Day, various ceremonies involving veterans are traditionally held, which among other things include laying flowers at war memorials. In the evening, celebratory gunfire and fireworks take place in Hero Cities (a Soviet honorary title awarded for outstanding heroism during World War II to 12 USSR cities and the Brest Fortress), for instance, in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Volgograd, Kerch, Murmansk, Novorossiysk, Sevastopol, Smolensk, and Tula, as well as in cities where the headquarters of military districts, fleets, combined arms armies, and the Caspian Flotilla are deployed. February 23 is meant to honor military servicemen but it actually celebrates men on the whole, regardless of their age and profession.