A missing Soviet soldier was found this week living in the Herat province of Afghanistan.
According to the AFP, Baakhretdin Khakimov was serving with the Red Army during the war in Afghanistan in 1980. He suffered a leg injury in September 1980 and was somehow separated from his fellow troops.
The missing soldier was found recently by the Warriors-Internationalists Affairs Committee, a veterans support group that is dedicated to locating missing Soviet soldiers. The group says that there are still more than 260 soldiers missing in Afghanistan.
WIAC chief Ruslan Aushev said: “Looking for missing soldiers is among our top priorities. And it’s a tough job.”
The Telegraph reports that Khakimov served in a motorized rifle unit during the war. He currently goes by the name Sheikh Abdullah and practices herbal medicine in Afghanistan. Khakimov barely speaks Russian anymore but Alexander Lavryentyev, of the Warriors-Internationalists Affairs Committee, said that he does still understand the language.
“On February 23, locals managed to bring him into the city for a meeting. Now he is called Sheikh Abdullah but before he was Bakhretin Khakimov from (the Uzbek city of) Samarkand.”
Warriors-Internationalists Affairs Committee said that Khakimov was still wearing the scars of the war. During the meeting, Lavryentyev noticed that Khakimov had a bit of a nervous tick and a shaking hand. Lavyrenyev learned that Khakimov had married while living in Afghanistan but that his wife had recently passed away.
The organization said:
“He could understand Russian a little bit, but spoke it poorly, although he remembers his Uzbek language. The effects of his wounds were clearly manifested: His hand trembles and there is a visible tic in his shoulder.”
Here’s a documentary The Last Soviet In Afghanistan about a soldier who has been living in Afghanistan for the last three decades.
It’s unclear what will happen to Khakimov now that he has been found. The Telegraph notes that the Warriors-Internationalists Affairs Committee found 29 missing soldiers in Afghanistan during the first decade after the Soviet Union’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. The majority of those soldiers decided to return home but seven said that they were going to stay in Afghanistan.
Lavyrenyev said that his mission wasn’t to bring every Soviet Soldier home. Instead, he wants to learn the fate of every missing soldier and give them the opportunity to return to Russia if they wish.