Russia's defence minister expressed horror on Monday that soldiers were still wrapping cloths around their feet instead of wearing socks, and vowed the historic practice must end this year. "I would like to give an order that in 2013, at least by the end of the year, we forget the word 'foot cloths'," Sergei Shoigu told military top brass.
"I ask for extra funds to be issued if necessary so that we completely give
up this concept in the armed forces." Russia's military leaders
have repeatedly vowed to ban the practice, dating back a hundred years, as part
of an attempt to modernise the sprawling armed forces. Soldiers wind pieces of cloth around their feet, which some say is more
practical for use with tall boots, but the practice is seen as shamefully
"This is 2013. We are still talking about foot cloths," Shoigu said, adding
that he had seen the practice while visiting units in recent months. "Listen, I am amazed at such an attitude to our troops. Find the level of
demand and solve this task," the former emergencies minister ordered.
Foot cloths and tall boots were taken off the list of essential elements of
uniform for the armed forces in 2007 but their use continued and was never
banned, a source in the defence ministry said.
Soldiers still wear tall boots for some tasks and foot cloths are more
suitable than socks, the source admitted. "It's very uncomfortable wearing socks with tall boots. The feet quickly get
rubbed raw and socks wear out instantly."