Deep in the Siberian wilderness, a group of Russian Special Forces, has emerged after training for a month with members of Old Believers. Old Believers are a group that split off from the Orthodox Church in the late 17th
century. Their followers live a secluded life in the Siberian wilderness and have rejected many modern conveniences. These people live off the land but never hunt animals such as hares or bears; due to their doctrine, they are able to hunt cloven-hoofed animals, such as deer, and birds and fish. Gathering nuts and berries is also allowed.
These people are actually found in various places in the world such as Alaska and Estonia. Many have fled areas due to religious persecution over the past 200 years. The ones that live in Siberia are scattered and are very secluded, preferring to maintain their distance from the modern world. Even the ones who use the modern conveniences of today are still wary of persecution, and most of them maintain their traditional standard of dress and religious devotion.
It is believed that this religious sect taught the elite Russian servicemen how to survive in the remote mountainous taiga – how to find their bearings, forage for food, and move across the landscape in ways that mean they are less likely to be observed.
The special training was five days long and took place deep in bear country in the Republic of Tuva, an area that borders Mongolia.
The reason this unusual training has taken place is because the Central Military District discovered that their instructors do not have the knowledge or expertise to teach the survival skills needed on the taiga.
The course was deemed a success, but it hasn’t been disclosed whether or not the training will become a regular feature of the elite military program, The Guardian reported.
Taiga is the Russian word for forest, and it is a needle-leaf forest. It is one of the largest forests in the world, stretching from Eurasia to North America. The taiga only really has two seasons, winter and summer. It is either hot and humid or very cold.
Plant life in the taiga is limited due to the harsh conditions, which is why the Russian troops needed specialized training. Most of the trees are evergreens and some of the trees grow thick bark due to the fact that wildfires pass through regularly. These fires are useful as they enable wildlife to attain fresh food – as the tops of the evergreens get burnt away, the sunshine is let in so new plant life can grow.