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Published On: Fri, Mar 8th, 2013

Missing Soviet soldier identified as man alive and well in Afghanistan

A former Soviet Army soldier who went missing in action in 1980 during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan has been found alive almost 33 years after he was rescued by Afghan tribesmen.

Now living under the name of Sheikh Abdullah and working as a traditional healer in the Herat Province in western Afghanistan, former Soviet soldier Bakhredtin Khakimov was an ethnic Uzbek.

Bakhredtin Khakimov, a missing Soviet soldier was found in Afghanistan 33 years after "gone missing"

Bakhredtin Khakimov, a missing Soviet soldier was found in Afghanistan 33 years after “gone missing”

Khakimov was tracked down by a team from Warriors-Internationalists Affairs Committee, a nonprofit, Moscow-based organization that leads the search for the former Soviet Union’s MIAs in Afghanistan.

“He received a heavy wound to the head in the course of a battle in (Shandand) district in September 1980 when he was picked up by local residents,” the organization said in a statement posted on its website. “He now leads a seminomadic life with the people who sheltered him.”

The organization said it made contact with the man two weeks ago and, while he had no identity papers, he was able to positively identify photos of other Soviets who served at the time.

“He could understand Russian a little bit, but spoke it poorly, although he remembers his Uzbek language,” the organization said. “The effects of his wounds were clearly manifested: His hand trembles, and there is a visible tic in his shoulder.”

The former soldier — who married in Afghanistan but is now a childless widower — was keen to meet his relatives. That’s something the committee is working to arrange, deputy head of the organization, Alexander Lavrentyev told reporters.

The Warriors-Internationalists Affairs Committee is working to track down 263 Soviet soldiers whose fates are unknown after the bloody nine-year campaign in Afghanistan. So far, it says it has tracked down 29 missing Soviet soldiers.

Lavrentyev said 22 chose to be repatriated to their homes while seven elected to stay in Afghanistan.

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