A photojournalist from Newsweek won first place this year. I know all of you are reading this and thinking.....SO...NEXT! Alas, his 'essay' was filled with a number of portraits of Veterans of Russia and many of them are bonafide heroes. Here's a link to the site where they are posted: http://bop.nppa.org/2010/still_photography/winners/?cat=SPP
Here are the photos
2009 marked the 30th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and 15 years since the war in Chechnya broke out. In both conflicts the Russian Special Forces (Spetsnaz) played key, front-line roles. They are the elite of Russia’s armed forces – the country’s toughest and best trained crack force – deployed only in the military’s most secret and dangerous operations.
The men portrayed in this series are all senior Spetsnaz officers who fought in Afghanistan, Chechnya and were sent in to put an end to some of the world’s most spectacular terrorist attacks – including the Moscow theatre siege and the Beslan school massacre.
Maj. Vyacheslav Yartsev (54) was a founding member of KGB’s famed Special Forces “Group A” and fought in Afghanistan, hunting down and eliminating high-value targets, including leaders of the mujahedin resistance.
Col. Valery Yemyshev (64) was member of KGB’s Special Forces “Group A”. He took part in the Kabul operation of 1979, when the government of Hafizullah Amin was overthrown, marking the beginning of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Yemyshev lost his right hand in the assault on the Tajbeg presidential Palace.
Vladimir Titov (45) was a reconnaissance company member with 345th Airborne Regiment in Afghanistan and took part in a large number of battles behind mujahedin lines. He also executed 1000 parachute jumps.
Maj Sergey Illarionov (34) was a staff officer in charge of special operations planning with Novocherkassk Special Force 7th, fighting in Chechnya. When on March 6, 2000, 22-strong Special Forces reconnaissance group was taken out in an ambush in Saadi-Quotar, Illarionov, unarmed, volunteered to meet the rebels’ leader to negotiate the return of his dead friends.
Capt Andrei Pelikhov (30) was a reconnaissance group deputy commander in Chechnya with Moscow Special Force 8th. Pelikhov was deployed in a raid in the mountains of eastern Chechnya against a group of insurgents when a land mine blew off his leg on March 6, 2006. The Russian authorities refused to award him a flat he was entitled to by law. Instead he was made to live with his family in a squalid dormitory. He is now suing his government.
Grigory Mylarschikov (39) was a member of the “Vityaz” Special Force and later a member of “Alfa” FSB anti-terrorist unit. He spent a total of 21 years in Russia’s elite commandos. Mylarschikov fought in both conflicts in Chechnya and was deployed in the Beslan school massacre September 3, 2004.
Col. Alexandr Musiyenko (45) was a veteran of both Afghanistan and the two Chechen campaigns. He took part some 150 covert missions. Musiyenko was a reconnaissance company deputy commander with 334th and 154th GRU Special Force in Afghanistan, hunting for insurgent supply convoys coming from Pakistan. Through the 2nd Chechen campaign Musiyenko was in charge of GRU Special Operations Command center in Khankala hunting down leaders of the Chechen resistance.
Vladimir Tregubov (37) was a member of the “Vympel” FSB anti-terrorist unit for 11 years. He was deployed in the Moscow theatre siege, October 26, 2002 and the Beslan school massacre September 3, 2004. Tregubov was seriously injured in Beslan during a firefight with Chechen terrorists.
Senior Lt. Andrei Boldyrev (29) was a senior scout machine gunner in Chechnya with the Saratov Special Force 20th. He was injured in Grozny by a roadside bomb, which killed one of his friends and took his right eye, on September 29, 2000. Boldyrev has re-trained himself to take aim with his left eye, to avenge his dead friends.
Col. Sergey Yushkov (42) was a reconnaissance party commander in Chechnya with Moscow Special Force 8th. A veteran of two Chechen campaigns, Yushkov was decorated the highest Russian award – the Gold Star of a Hero.