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Soviet soldier tells why he defected to Afghanistan


A former Soviet soldier presumed dead for 33 years has spoken of how he embraced Islam and turned his gun on his countrymen after he was shot, left for dead by his unit, and nursed back to health in a remote Afghan village.

Bakhretdin Khakimov, now known as Sheikh Abdullah, said he had no interest in returning to his native Russia, which he insists deceived him and sent him to fight an “unlawful war” in Afghanistan.

Sheikh Abdullah’s story was revealed last month when a Russian veterans’ association found him alive and well, living as a traditional healer in the province of Herat. His family had not heard from him since he was shot during skirmishes between Soviet and Afghan troops in the area in 1980.