Russian soldier found after 33 years

March 6, 2013 at 4:14 PM
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SHINAND DISTRICT, Afghanistan, March 6 (UPI) -- A Russian soldier who was deemed missing in action during the 1980 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan has been found, a Moscow-based search organization said.

The former Red Army soldier, Bakhredtin Khakimov, whose new name is Sheikh Abdullah, now works in Afghanistan's Shinand District as a traditional healer, CNN reported Wednesday.

"He received a heavy wound to the head in the course of a battle in Shanind district in September 1980 when he was picked up by local residents. He now leads a semi-nomadic life with the people who sheltered him," said the Warriors-Internationalists Affairs Committee, a nonprofit group that searches in Afghanistan for the former Soviet Union's MIAs.

"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," the group said.

Alexander Lavrentyev, the group's deputy head who met with Khakimov last month in the western Afghan city of Herat, said Khakimov, an ethnic Uzbek originally from Samarkand, married in Afghanistan but is now a childless widower. A village elder had nursed Khakimov back to health and taught him his trade of herbal healing.

Khakimov said he would like to meet his relatives, and the search organization said it's working to arrange a meeting.

A Ghor province chief of police said Khakimov converted in 1993 to Islam.

CNN reported Sharafudin Stanekzai, a local journalist, provided a conflicting story about Khakimov. Stanekzai said Khakimov fled his Red Army unit after stealing a gun and handed it over to Mujahedeen Islamic guerilla fighters.

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