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Telogreika (Russian: телогре́йка; IPA: [tʲɪlɐˈgrʲejkə]; lit. "body warmer") or vatnik (Russian: ватник; IPA: [vˈatnʲɪk]) is a Russian kind of warm cotton wool-padded jacket. It was also a part of winter uniform first issued by the Red Army during the German-Soviet War. Telogreikas continued to be issued until the late 1960s.
The basic cut the uniform followed was that of a quilted jacket and quilted trousers. The trousers had a button fly and tied at the bottom of the legs. There were usually pockets on the hips of telogreika trousers and a button pocket on the front of the trouser leg.
Telogreika jackets buttoned up the front, and the jacket sleeves buttoned closed. Early issue variants had high collars, though these were absent later on. Telogreika jackets usually had a single pocket on the front of the jacket.
The clothing was usually khaki in colour, although black uniforms were issued to tank crews and some grey variants can be seen, sewn of cotton (and later polyester-blend) fabric with a cotton wool batting inside.
The jacket and trousers usually had a ribbed design with the quilting, although this feature was absent on many of the non-Soviet issue uniforms.
The telogreika was particularly effective at keeping the wearer warm in the harsh Russian Winter. When worn with valenki and an ushanka a wearer can comfortably remain warm in sub-zero temperatures for long periods. This made it the perfect uniform not just for the Red Army, but for both prisoners and guards of the Gulags.
In contrast to the usual shortages in the Red Army, troops received regular issues of winter clothing, as their combat effectiveness could be hampered in cold conditions otherwise. The Wehrmacht also regularly made use of captured Red Army winter uniforms, often taking them from the deceased, due to the ineffectiveness of their own winter uniforms. Similarly in the Winter War, due to a poor preparation and lack of materiel, Finnish rank-and-file troops were not issued uniforms, and had to survive with whatever of their own clothing they could bring (facetiously malli Cajander (model Cajander) after Prime Minister Aimo Cajander), or resort to capturing them from the dead Red Army soldiers.
The Telogreika faded from military issue in the early 1960s, being largely replaced by the return to the old woollen shinel greatcoat and the bushlat. In the early 1980s the introduction of the Afghanka field uniform marked the dawn of a new era in the Soviet Army. Today, the Telogreika is still used in Russia and many Soviet Bloc countries by private citizens. In Russia it is particularly popular amongst night watchmen and workers in the construction industry.
- Stalin's War: Soviet Uniforms and Militaria 1941-45 by Laszlo Bekesi
- The Red Army of the Great Patriotic War, 1941-45 By Stephen J Zaloga