MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian official says it's time for the nation's soldiers to switch from foot wraps to socks.
Since the late 17th century, Russian soldiers have been using wraps, rectangular strips of cloth that are carefully wrapped around their bare feet to prevent blisters from tall heavy boots with no laces.
But Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who took the post two months ago, said he was surprised to learn that some soldiers are still using the wraps, called "portyanki" in Russian, and told them to use socks instead.
At a televised meeting with military officers Monday, he said, "In 2013, or at least by the end of 2013, we must forget the word portyanki."
Czar Peter the Great adopted the custom from the Dutch army in the late 17th century.