Some 33 years after disappearing in Afghanistan, a Soviet veteran of the Afghan War has been located by his former countrymen.
The soldier, found by ex-Soviet troops, now lives with Afghans in the western province of Herat and has adopted the Afghan name Sheikh Abdullah, according to Russia’s RIA news agency.
An ethnic Uzbek, he was wounded in battle in 1980, shortly after the beginning of the nine-year Soviet war in Afghanistan.
Rescued by local Afghans after being wounded, the soldier, whose original name was Bakhretdin Khakimov, is now semi-nomadic and practices herbal medicine, the Russian news agency added.
The head of the official veterans’ committee, Ruslan Aushev, said the long-missing soldier was tracked down in Afghanistan’s Shindand district after a year-long search. He had served with a motorized rifle unit, according to the BBC.
At present, more than 250 Soviet soldiers are listed as still missing in Afghanistan. In the first decade after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989 the veterans’ committee found 29 missing soldiers – and 22 of them decided to return home, while seven opted to stay in Afghanistan, RIA reported.
Abdullah bore the scars of his war wounds – a shaking hand and shoulder and nervous tic, according to a veterans’ committee official.
Some 15,000 Red Army soldiers and more than a million Afghans were killed during the conflict, which began in late 1979 and ended in early 1989 and pitted a Soviet-backed government in Kabul against mujahideen fighters armed by the West and Islamic neighbors.
(Above: Soviet solider in Afghanistan. Photo Credit: Wikipedia.)