Soviet Soldier Found 33 Years After Going Missing in Afghanistan

The ethnic Uzbek, originally from Samarkand, was wounded in battle in 1980 and rescued by nearby villagers.

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Afghan resistance fighters return to a village destroyed by Soviet forces in 1986.

A former Soviet soldier has been discovered hiding in Afghanistan under an assumed identity 33 years after going missing.

Bakhretdin Khakimov disappeared during the first months of the nine-year war that was sparked when Soviet tanks rolled into Afghanistan in late 1979.

(PHOTOSA Long and Distant War: Photos from Afghanistan, 1988-2009)

The ethnic Uzbek, originally from Samarkand, was wounded in battle in 1980 and rescued by nearby villagers, according to the BBC. He later adopted the local name Sheikh Abdullah and has lived by practicing herbal medicine learnt from his saviors.

Khakimov was found two weeks ago by members of the Warriors-Internationalists Affairs Committee, or WIAC, a nonprofit, Moscow-based organization, who spent an entire year retracing his steps, reports Russia’s RIA news agency.

“Looking for missing soldiers is among our top priorities. And it’s a tough job,” WIAC chief Ruslan Aushev, who also fought in Afghanistan, told a news conference in the Russian capital on Monday. The committee has so far discovered 29 missing Soviet soldiers alive in Afghanistan, and is still investigating the whereabouts of another 263. Seven of those identified chose to stay where they were, while the others are mulling a permanent return home.

Khakimov has expressed interest in meeting estrange relatives back in Russia, something the WIAC is now trying to arrange, although he has forgotten what he once knew of the language. He married a local Afghan woman and settled in Shindand District, but his wife has since died, reports the U.K. Guardian.

Around 15,000 Soviet troops and more than one million Afghans lost their lives in the conflict, which raged between Kabul’s Kremlin-backed government and mujahideen rebels armed by Islamic neighbors and anti-communist Western powers.

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4 comments
RichardHarris
RichardHarris

The Russians killed over a million Afghans and only lost 15,000 men.  Looks like they really did some ass kicking.  It's probably because they had 1400 tanks in country.  After ten years of fighting we finally moved our first 14 (yes -  one four) tanks into Afghanistan in  January 2011.  Despite that nonsense we've still driven the Talibananas into Pakistan.  The stupidity is that if we had put 1400 tanks into Afghanistan we wouldn't have taken anywhere near 4,000 KIA's.  

chrish414
chrish414

Might want to run a spell check next time. Ridiculous that you subject people to your laziness.