A former Soviet soldier who went missing more than three decades ago during Moscow’s ill-fated invasion of Afghanistan has been found alive and well near the city of Herat.
Bakhretdin Khakimov was a Soviet soldier from the city of Samarkand, now part of independent Uzbekistan, and was found living under the name of Sheikh Abdullah. The ethnic Uzbek understood Russian, but was unable to speak much, according to Russian news sources. He served in the Soviet war in a motorised rifle unit, but was seriously wounded in September 1980, less than a year after the Soviet invasion of the country. He was taken in by an Afghan traditional healer who gave him herbal remedies for his wounds, and Mr Khakimov now performs the same role.
The former soldier was found by a committee of veterans from Russia and other former-Soviet countries that performs periodic missions to Afghanistan with the aim of hunting down missing soldiers. Usually this means burying their remains, but occasionally the expeditions come across soldiers who remained and adapted to Afghan life.
During the two decades that the committee has searched, it has found 29 former soldiers alive, of which 22 have returned to Russia.