Soviet Soldier Found in Afghanistan—33 Years On

Rifleman now practices herbal medicine
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2013 4:05 AM CST
Bakhretdin Khakimov is now known as Sheikh Abdullah.   (Warriors-Internationalists Affairs Committee)

(Newser) – Veterans' groups trying to track down the 264 Soviet soldiers still listed as missing in Afghanistan have scratched one off the list. Bakhretdin Khakimov, a rifleman who went missing months after the 1979 Soviet invasion, has been found living among Afghans in the western province of Herat, the BBC reports. The ethnic Uzbek, now known as Sheikh Abdullah, was rescued by local Afghans after being wounded in battle and now makes a living as a traditional healer.

The committee leading the search for the missing soldiers plans to reunite him with surviving relatives, RIA Novosti reports. He was found by ex-Soviet war veterans after a yearlong search, according to the head of the committee. The Soviet entanglement in Afghanistan cost the lives of 15,000 Red Army soldiers before the last troops withdrew in early 1989. Since 1993, 29 missing Soviet soldiers have been found alive in Afghanistan, with seven of them—plus Abdullah—choosing to stay there rather than return home. (Read more Soviet Union stories.)

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