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‘Doesn’t Matter If You’re Red Or White’: Russians Recreate Key Civil War Battle
‘Doesn’t Matter If You’re Red Or White’: Russians Recreate Key Civil War Battle avatar

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Photo: Sibir.Realii (RFE/RL)

Ninety-nine years after the Battle of Volochayevka, history buffs relive the clash that many see as the end of the Russian Civil War.

Participants in the reenactment of the Volochayevka Operation prepare their weapons.

These scenes were photographed near Khabarovsk, in Russia's Far East, where military reenactors marked the 99th anniversary of the Battle of Volochayevka on February 14.

A military reenactor in the dress of the Red Army
A military reenactor in the dress of the Red Army

The 1922 clash was fought between elements linked to the Soviet Red Army and what remained of the counterrevolutionary White Army. Hundreds of fighters died and the anti-revolutionary White Movement was effectively finished off by the battle.

In 1928, this memorial complex was built on the hill where the battle took place. The fighter atop the monument once held a rifle in his hands.
In 1928, this memorial complex was built on the hill where the battle took place. The fighter atop the monument once held a rifle in his hands.

This memorial is currently being refurbished in time for the 100th anniversary of the battle next year. The work at the site meant this year's reenactors had to stage their battle a short distance from the hilltop site of the clash.

A "casualty" next to a flag of the short-lived Far Eastern Republic, which fought against the White Army.
A "casualty" next to a flag of the short-lived Far Eastern Republic, which fought against the White Army.

Kirill Bashinsky, one of the reenactors of the battle, tells RFE/RL's Siberian.Realities that participants buy the equipment and blank rounds for the guns themselves. The history enthusiast says reenactments are "a fairly expensive hobby. Preparation for a 'battle' can take up to two months."

Bashinsky says that "the most expensive thing is a rifle, which can cost upwards of 50,000 rubles ($675)."

A boy looks at one of the machine guns being serviced between battles.
A boy looks at one of the machine guns being serviced between battles.

Bashinsky says part of the motivation for the hobby is that when the mock battles get under way, the realism and heavy equipment allows him to "really plunge into that time — you begin to understand how hard it was for the average fighter."

Vadim Agapov battling at the reenactment
Vadim Agapov battling at the reenactment

Historian Vadim Agapov has written books about Russia,s Civil War and says in the area where the Volochayevka battle took place the remains of "many" defeated White Army fighters lie in unmarked and unknown graves.

A "casualty" of battle
A "casualty" of battle

Agapov says, "The Red Army won and in the U.S.S.R. they did not erect monuments to the enemies."

A young woman dressed and ready for battle
A young woman dressed and ready for battle

Bashinsky says: "I don't care whether I fight on the side of the Reds or Whites. Whichever side needs a soldier, that's what I dress for — the uniforms are nearly the same." The history buff adds: "I'm interested in seeing things from both sides. They all fought for some idea of their own."

Military reenactors relax between clashes.
Military reenactors relax between clashes.

Reenactor Bashinsky says one of the most difficult aspects of the hobby is taking public transport while carrying around formidable-looking rifles. "People raise their eyebrows when someone with a 'weapon' is trying to get into the compartment. But we have documents that confirm that this product is not a [working] firearm."

Women dressed as nurses for the reenactment
Women dressed as nurses for the reenactment

When the battle was over spectators were given the chance to fire a blank from one of the rifles, with these nurses on hand to bandage up anyone who wished.

Reenactors from opposing sides of the battle pose for a photo after the mock fighting ended.
Reenactors from opposing sides of the battle pose for a photo after the mock fighting ended.

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