- Evgeny Evgenievich, why are you, a filmmaker, so closely involved in the theme of the missing in Afghanistan ?

- I myself served in the 56th DSB (airborne assault brigade. - RT ), spent a total of about ten months in Afghanistan, and received disability status. I have here not only professional interest as a director, but also my own personal story. It can be said that I still bear the burden of guilt over the disappearance of one of my colleagues. I still think that then it was in my power to prevent him from leaving the unit.

Now we are friends and work closely with Alexander Lavrentiev, the leader of the working group on Afghanistan in the Interagency Commission on Prisoners of War, Internees and Missing Persons. This is now the only structure that searches for the missing during that war. Lavrentiev is an absolutely unique person who has devoted himself entirely to this topic and has been engaged in it for many years, although he, as an officer in the missile forces, did not even serve in Afghanistan.

- What is the status of this structure ?

- It is formally established by the President of the Russian Federation, but in fact has neither funding nor anything. Roughly speaking, it exists on paper with the indicated surnames and positions. Therefore, in recent years, all practical search work in Afghanistan has been personally held by Lavrentiev and several other similar enthusiasts.

You must have heard that last year, during a regular trip to Afghanistan, Alexander Vladimirovich was captured by the Taliban * movement, and the fact that a month later he managed to rescue him from the living and almost healthy is a real miracle.

  • Yevgeny Barkhanov during the filming of his documentary in Pakistan
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  • © Afghan, missing

- Remind me how many people went missing in Afghanistan and how many were found ? On the Internet walk a variety of numbers.

- Now the fate of 264 people is unknown. Either there is no information about them at all, or it is not confirmed. At the time of the withdrawal of our troops in 1989, there were 311 names on this list.

- It turns out that in 30 years only 47 people have become clear.

- The commission had different periods, including when the search was actually not conducted. After they gave us a grant from the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation to create Tashakor, they received a new impetus. It was possible to organize several meaningful expeditions, which made it possible to make a very good start. But for the search itself, Lavrentyev is forced to seek funds on his own, and this greatly slows down the process.

- What are the main expenses associated with travel and how do you manage to get these funds?

- In addition to airline tickets, gasoline, you need to pay for translation services, security, informants. But even if in the end we find the remains of our guys, then the Afghans also demand money for the bones. Not quite adequate amounts are often called, but you can always bargain.

Alas, the times have passed when Ruslan Aushev, heading the Committee on the Affairs of Warriors-Internationalists, found serious sponsors. He and Colonel General Valery Vostrotin, who now heads the Interdepartmental Commission for Prisoners of War, Internees and Missing Persons, are the only two people (by the way, both were awarded the title Heroes of the Soviet Union for their service in Afghanistan), which this topic really worried about and then and now.

Therefore, at the moment, everything rests mainly on private donations. Help those who have passed Afghanistan, and quite a lot of women. It may sound pathetic, but these are Russian women of all ages, whom this war also affected. Amounts are quite small, sometimes pensioners send 50 rubles each. At this moment, Alexander Vladimirovich is terribly bitter and especially embarrassed that he has to accept this money.

- I heard that there is a database of the relatives of all the missing people, so that when they find the remains it is easier to identify someone.

- Yes, but for some unclear reasons, some relatives refused to provide material, and some of the missing people simply did not have relatives left, so this database is incomplete. But even with her work on identification is very difficult - for a number of reasons, it is not always possible to isolate DNA from the found remains, and sometimes analysis shows that this is not at all the person whose remains, we believe, we found. In this case, we are either looking for additional fragments of bones, or we leave what is there for storage in the hope of the appearance of more modern technologies.

  • Shot from the movie "Brotherhood"
  • © kinopoisk.ru

- I was shocked by the history of IL-76 with Vitebsk paratroopers, which crashed near Kabul in the first hours of the operation in Afghanistan, December 25, 1979. Then high in the mountains killed about 50 people. With great difficulty, climbers managed to find a torn cabin, get the bodies of pilots and a briefcase with secret documents. And the fuselage fell into an inaccessible gorge, which was then impossible to get close to. And after the end of the rescue operation, for some reason everyone forgot about this tragedy. They were recognized dead, families received benefits, but no one even tried to find the bodies. Only in 2005, Afghans were able to get there, take photographs and transfer them to the Committee on the Affairs of Warriors-Internationalists. At the expense of sponsors, social activists organized a modest expedition, eventually found that place, but they could not get on a helicopter and examined it only from the air. That is, 40 years after the tragedy, no one reached the remains of dozens of our soldiers, who lie not somewhere on the other side of the earth or on the ocean floor, but in a specific place. How so ?

- Everything again comes down to money, and in the case of this IL-76, a lot of them are needed. Because such a search operation is a serious risk, and if the state takes responsibility for it, then it is necessary to ensure security, that is, involve a variety of structures. What if something happens? Nobody wants to answer. When we go to Afghanistan, we simply inform the diplomats. By and large, we are only a headache for them, adventurers with all the attendant attitudes. In a good way, there should be a separate state structure with staff, funding and relevant capabilities. But she is not.

“A lot of people still care about this topic.”

- Your one and a half hour documentary “Tashakor” (“Thank you” in the Dari language. - RT )  aroused great interest among the audience. There are new sensational data, which we will talk about, but why now it can not be seen anywhere ?

- We look forward to continuing filming not only a documentary, but also a feature film, and for this we need to participate in film festivals and nominations. The Ministry of Defense and our embassy in Kabul have already promised to support us with the film, but this is also an important component to get financing for it in the Ministry of Culture. For the film to be selected for the festival, it should not be in the public domain. We filed many applications, but because of the coronavirus, all this has been postponed. In the fall, I will definitely post the film in the public domain so that as many people as possible can watch it.

- As I understand it, we have already participated in one of the festivals.

- Yes, after the premiere in December 2019, there were several closed shows, mainly for veterans, in the spring there was an opportunity to conduct an online show as part of the “Date with Russia” festival. And we, with amazing ease for me, were ahead of everyone there. If on average 20-30 thousand people watched pictures online, then almost 200 thousand of ours, and literally around the world. I was in a light shock when I found out that only in Australia it was watched by several thousand people, despite the fact that the film was available at a strictly defined time only for an hour and a half. After the show, I received about a hundred letters from around the world, it turned out that this topic still worries a lot of people.

“Pantelyuk and five more people asked for help to return to their homeland”

- The main plot of Tashakor is the search for the traces of the missing Soviet pilot Sergei Pantelyuk in 1987. Two years ago, Russian media vied with each other that, after 30 years, a missing Soviet pilot was found in Afghanistan who would like to return home. There was not much data, but Pantelyuk's surname sounded then. However, then this topic, which received a huge response, somehow came to naught. Surely you know the whole background of that story.

- Yes. A few years ago, our special services through an intermediary received a note in Russian and a photograph of a man who introduced himself as Sergey Pantelyuk. He asked for help and five more of our missing servicemen to return to their homeland.

Then a cautious statement was made by Colonel General Valery Vostrotin about real chances to find alive one of our missing pilots, which in the summer of 2018 stirred the media so much.

  • Evgeny Barkhanov is sure that the same person is in the photo - the Soviet pilot Sergei Pantelyuk who was missing in 1987
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  • © Afghan, missing

“Did you and Alexander Lavrentiev go to Pakistan to try to find him ?”

- Yes, there we had to meet with the intermediary from whom the information came. But when we arrived, it turned out that the intermediary was in prison, and it was not possible to meet with him. And although the contact itself was not very reliable, there were good reasons to believe that this pilot was alive. We conducted an examination, which showed: with a very high degree of probability, in the photo Sergey Pantelyuk. Personally, I am sure of this. With regard to future prospects, the work on its search continues.

- Is there any understanding where he can be now and what is his position ?  If somewhere there is a group of our prisoners, then why now, when the war is long over, they cannot independently come somewhere and ask for help ?

- In Pakistan, there were several significant camps for displaced persons, refugees from Afghanistan. They were located mainly around Peshawar. We are pretty sure that the note was from Shamshatu camp. In the 1980s, there were up to 50 thousand people. Now it’s less, but several steps of protection remain, therefore, if a person is kept there, it is extremely difficult to get to him. It’s just that you don’t get there, and we didn’t succeed either. And what is stopping them from leaving the territory themselves is definitely hard to say.

- In the course of working on the film, you managed to interview the leader of the Islamic Party of Afghanistan (IPA) Gulbeddin Hekmatyar, one of the largest and at the same time radicalized field commanders of the Soviet-Afghan war.

- Yes, before that he had never talked with the Russian media, ignored them fundamentally. This is one of the most influential people in the country, who has been on the “black list” of UN terrorists along with Osama bin Laden for almost 15 years since 2003. Although during the Afghan war, he was among the favorites of US intelligence, receiving serious support from them.

- How did you manage to arrange a meeting with him?

- A few years ago, he concluded an agreement with the authorities of Afghanistan, on their own initiative, all sanctions were lifted from him. A meeting with him took place in October 2018, on the eve of the presidential election in Afghanistan, where he was to participate. I think this moment also influenced.

- The Shamshatu camp you mentioned in the 1980s was just the estate of Hekmatyar and his party.Surely you and him touched the fate of Sergei Pantelyuk.

-Of course. During the meeting, we handed him the photographs of the young Pantelyuk and the modern one brought by the intermediary. Hekmatyar looked carefully with a smile, left them to himself and said: "It is unlikely that he will return to Russia."

However, later, looking carefully at the recording of the interview, it seemed to me by the expression on his face that he recognized this man.

  • Conversation with Gulbeddin Hekmatyar at his Kabul residence
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  • © Afghan, missing

“An armed conflict almost happened because of our prisoners”

- What else interesting did Hekmatyar tell you about the fate of our prisoners ?

- First of all, we learned details about the little-known captives of Soviet prisoners of war who, unfortunately, ended tragically. We can say that this is a sensation, we managed to find out the amazing details of this tragedy, which gives hope to find at least their remains.

- That is, the famous uprising in the Pakistani Badaber camp in April 1985, when Soviet prisoners fought the Mujahideen and died heroically, was not the only one ?

- Yes. But unlike the events in Badaber, around which there are still many mysteries, but at least the main participants in this, without exaggeration of the heroic uprising and the general course of events are known, practically nothing is known about the other two uprisings, even brief references to them are almost never found .

- What exactly did you find out ?

- The one about which a little more is known happened in the Pakistani Para-Chinar camp in the summer of 1986. If in Badaber another leader of the opposition Burhanuddin Rabbani commanded, then here was the base of Hekmatyar. Actually, with his knowledge of this incident, after the meeting, his son told us in detail, in writing.

According to him, the father during the inspection of the camp found out that they held Soviet prisoners of war one by one, and ordered them to take out for joint walks, even allowing them to play volleyball. That is, from this we can assume that they were kept in a confined space, apparently in some kind of pits.

Unfortunately, there are no witnesses, and no one knows for sure. One evening, when the guard went to evening prayer, they took advantage of this, attacked the only guard who remained with them - the son of Hekmatyar notes that he later died - and fled from the camp.

- How many were there ?

- Seven, all of us, there were no Afghans among them. Having seized the guard’s weapons and roughly understanding where the border with Afghanistan is, they headed in that direction. Could cross it, walked a total of about a day. They were caught when there was just a little before the outpost of the Afghan government troops, our allies. The guys apparently knew about him. They were captured by another group that clashed with the Hekmatyar’s IPA. As I understand it, they were taken without a fight. And soon there came a chase from Para Chinar.

- It turns out a kind of triangle, where all sides are opposed to each other.

- Yes, this description says that because of our prisoners there was almost an armed conflict. Only through the involvement of local elders from two sides was it possible to avoid a direct collision. It so happened that shortly before that, newlyweds and some of their relatives died from a Soviet air strike in the village where all this happened.

With this in mind and in order to avoid civil strife, the elders decided that our prisoners should not be taken by either one or the other. According to the son of Hekmatyar, they decided to make them as such a purification sacrifice. They were executed.

“Do you know the exact place where this happened ?”

- Yes, we have the name of the village, there are names of people to whom they then got. You can go there and with high probability find witnesses to this execution. But I would not want to voice the exact data so far, it can only interfere with our further actions.

  • 2019 year. Alexander Lavrentiev immediately after the release of the Taliban from captivity, in which he spent almost a month
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  • © Afghan, missing

- Is there a real opportunity to get there ?  Judging by the map, this village should be located in the Khost province, and it was considered very inaccessible during the war. The host city itself has been under blockade for many years, and now, taking into account the factor of the Taliban, whom Lavrentyev had recently been in captivity, it is very difficult to get to the border areas from Afghanistan.

- Yes, we ourselves will be too expensive and risky to get there, but with the help of intermediaries, I hope we can contact people who know the details of the terrible death of our guys. Another option is to ask Afghans loyal to Russia to help us, of course, not for free. We have such trusted people, they can get there, gather information on the spot, so that only later we decide what to do next. Ideally, of course, if we succeed, find some kind of remains so that after molecular studies we can establish the identities of the dead, about which we have no data.

The killer of 14 Soviet prisoners asked never to mention his name

- What did you learn about the second uprising, about which there is still less information ?

- It also happened in 1986. There were 14 of our prisoners in that group. Here I do not even want to talk about geography. We learned about these events from the person who was then responsible for the safety of this camp.

He asked never to mention his name anywhere, because he does not hide that in the end he himself had to kill our soldiers. Therefore, maybe this will sound strange, we must now be careful not to put his life in jeopardy.

- It is known how events developed ?

“Toward night, they somehow managed to quickly leave the camp where they were being held.” But in the end, by morning, the Mujahideen had caught everyone. Since the events in Badaber that inflicted huge damage on them were still fresh in their memory, they understood that the camp guards could have problems for oversight. And so that no one would know about the fact of the escape, this security chief, without the consent of his leadership, decided to shoot all Soviet prisoners.

- There are no words. What are the chances to get there and find the remains ?

- Before you do something, you must first agree. As soon as the coronavirus retreats and air travel resumes, you can try to meet this person or his representative, perhaps even in a third country. This is our thread, only he knows the specific burial place. We will try to come to a compromise, but here everything will rest on money.

From the “red tulip” to emigration to the West

- The fate of the captured Soviet soldiers was different. Understanding this topic, I learned that about two dozen of our prisoners, who were transported by the Mujahideen to Pakistan, ended up in the United States, Canada, Europe, and remained there forever. They were freed by the Red Cross or sometimes literally redeemed from captivity by Western human rights activists. Most of all in this respect, an American of Russian origin Lyudmila Thorne is known. How do you feel about this category of prisoners?

“It's not for us to judge them.” In working with a prisoner of war, this is the second rule after “do no harm”. And if human life was at stake, then, of course, it is better to go there permanently, starting life from scratch, than to stay forever in the Afghan land.

Therefore, I will not say anything bad neither about Lyudmila Thorne, nor about other human rights defenders. Yes, their work had a certain ideological color, after their release, the guys made public political speeches, addressed Reagan, played on the other side, roughly speaking, but, it seems to me, these women themselves saved our guys from captivity at the behest of their hearts, and our people went there voluntarily.

They are not in the sphere of our attention and interest, but I would like to talk with some of them, as they may have information about other prisoners who have not yet been found.

  • Ludmila Thorn, an American human rights activist of Russian descent, is visiting captives of future participants in the famous uprising in Pakistan’s Badaber camp
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  • © Afghan, missing

- There was such a moment when a group of our prisoners came from Afghanistan, first to Pakistan, and from there the Red Cross sent them to Switzerland. And only two years later, some of them returned to the USSR. What is this story ?

- That was in 1982. The USSR demanded from the Red Cross that the soldiers released thanks to the efforts of this organization should be immediately returned to their homeland. Western human rights defenders opposed. In the end, they found a compromise. They agreed that after a two-year “imprisonment” under supervision in neutral Switzerland they would be sent to the USSR. But closer to the end of the term, human rights defenders again began to declare that people cannot be forcibly sent. They got to be given the opportunity to choose for themselves. As a result, eight out of 11 people returned home, and the rest asked for political asylum: one literally fled to Germany, two remained in Switzerland and then, it seems, ended up in the United States.

- What depended on the fate of the Soviet soldier in captivity ? There is an opinion that in the first years of the war they had less chance of survival and only then the Mujahideen realized that the captive Shuravi was a valuable asset.  Is that so ?

- Each case was unique, nuances are always important, because we didn’t have a uniform enemy there - we fought with a variety of rebel groups. But there were some general trends. If a person was taken prisoner in a battle in which one of the Mujahideen died, or if there were “bloodlines” in this group, someone died earlier, then there was almost no chance of surviving.

Our soldier Viktor Gryaznov by the decision of the Sharia court in February 1981 made the “red tulip”. This is a monstrous medieval execution, even from the description of which it becomes creepy, who are very interested, probably will be able to find about it on the Internet.

In many ways, such reprisals were used for propaganda purposes. Plus, there was an element of sacrifice, when a person experiences these terrible death throes. Such executed people were thrown up, and they are not considered missing - they are, as a rule, identified.

And for us soldiers, such cases were also a kind of agitation. For clarity, the bodies of the dead were sometimes shown to personnel so that people, even in some difficult situation for themselves, would try to avoid captivity.

- As I understand it, quite a few guys were rescued during the war itself. Who then searched for the missing ?

- By 1982, their number was already significant and a special department appeared in the counterintelligence of the 40th Army, which centralized this search. People disappeared in various provinces, from different divisions, and overall coordination was needed. Different methods were used for the search - somewhere with the help of money they decided, sometimes exchanged for their prisoners, in different ways. For any commander, the loss of a soldier is an emergency, and in each case, serious efforts were made to find him.

- Many missing people, as it turned out later, simply ran away from units due to hazing - bullying was so unbearable that people, despite all the horror stories, were ready to run wherever they looked. It always seemed to me that the concepts of war and hazing get along very badly with each other.

- Hazing in Afghanistan really was, as, indeed, in the entire Soviet army, but everything depended on the particular commander and there were parts where this was not. I would note the negative role that drugs played. Due to their easy accessibility, this problem was widespread. And a lot of incidents, including in terms of hazing, are connected with drugs.

Moreover, living conditions, especially in the first years of their stay, were very poor. I was there already at the end of the campaign, but it used to wake up in the snow, it just fell asleep during the night. In the mountains they did not wash normally for a month and a half. The hardest thing in the war is life. And many did not morally stand it, especially when they had to provide household comfort not only to themselves, but also to senior employees. It was difficult to. Well, the hostilities themselves, of course, shook the psyche of many.

CIA Open Archives

- “Tashakor” has unique documentary shots. There are even more interesting and previously unpublished archived video and audio interviews with our prisoners in Afghanistan on your YouTube channel . Where did these materials come from ?

- From not so long ago officially published CIA archives. In the United States, there is a rule: after 30 years, the first stage of screening of documentation takes place to determine whether it is of any operational interest to their special services or not. What is no longer relevant is published. It is clear that this is far from all that they have, but this is a serious help. If not for this rule, these interesting materials would have been gathering dust in the archives for a long time. Their study will certainly bear fruit.

  • 1981 year. Mujahideen military adviser American Andrew Ive and Soviet prisoners of war Yu. Povarnitsyn and M. Yazkuliev
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  • © Afghan, missing

- How much is there a large amount of information on Afghanistan ?

- I have already selected about 50 hours of video materials, but so far I have not looked through and studied everything. Now we need to sift them in detail, like through a sieve, and look for something interesting for our mission. And there are a lot of interesting things. And there are still photos, audio, written materials. Often you do not understand who it is, what it is, you turn to someone for help. That is why I post a lot of things in my social networks and on my YouTube channel.

I really want one of the readers to help identify the person or tell some unknown details about the missing co-worker. And it works, I get very important information from the audience. For example, after the publication of one photograph of the body of a dead Soviet soldier who disappeared in 1980, the author of this picture wrote me. He gave all the information, and we will try to get there to try to find his remains.

- What about Soviet archival documents ?

- In the USSR, army reporting, which should be hidden, in addition to postscripts, sometimes also contained an element of direct distortion. It is not always possible to reliably judge the circumstances of the loss of our servicemen according to official documents - extracts, orders, explanatory notes from superiors or colleagues. Always tried some unsightly moments, even at the cost of distortion, to smooth and present the situation in a more favorable light. Nobody will ever directly write that the old-timers sent the newcomer to the village for drugs and he was captured there. Neither soldiers nor commanders needed this.

- Are there any other examples of this approach ?

- Yes, there is a real story, it will be included in my next documentary film “Tashakor, afterword ...”, which I plan to finish before the end of the year. The helicopter was shot down. Three crew members died, coffins with bodies sent home. And after some time, an agent comes and says that we have a pilot who was recently shot down. He is badly wounded, he is being treated. They began to understand what kind of pilot it was.

It turned out that only two corpses could be reached at the crash site, but the third was never found. But in order for his family to be paid all the prescribed benefits, the command decided to register him as a deceased. A small piece of human flesh, found at the crash site and belonging, apparently, to this very pilot, was put in the coffin and sent to the relatives. Meanwhile, he himself was cured and transported to Pakistan. As a result, precious time was lost for the search, because from the very beginning he was considered dead. As a result of his fate in the end, we do not know.

“Is his personality known ?”

“Yes, but I don’t specifically give the name, because he remains dead here by all accounts.” And when you collect all this bit by bit, you understand that you can’t say anything unequivocally. There were cases when after the death of the pilots in captivity, and because of the bombing they were hated the most, dushmans already gave away literally some fragments of bodies, but no one then did any analysis. Whether it was the same pilot or someone else is unknown. And such cases are enough.

“I have compiled a list of names of those who have been in the camp of the Mujahideen”

- What other sources of information were used to work on the picture ?  Are there any among them that can help with the search for the missing ?

- Yes, although, unfortunately, some very interesting people for us do not want to make contact. We talked very productively with a French journalist of Russian descent, Victor Lupan, who repeatedly visited the Mujahideen camp and shared his unique materials. We talked with the famous artist Mikhail Shemyakin, who also actively helped to free our prisoners. A very promising meeting with an American journalist, photographer, director and writer Jeff Harmon, whom we found in Los Angeles.

- What attracted you so much in his work ?

- Harmon is a very outstanding person, a real daredevil and an adventurer. He has behind him many military conflicts in different parts of the world, including this is a unique case, he was able to work in Afghanistan from two sides - first in the Mujahideen camps, where he has really unique and very interesting personnel for us, and then , already in the era of publicity, he was given the opportunity to observe the work of our special forces.

He wants to cooperate with us, he is very interested in the topic of the feature film about Afghanistan, which I plan to shoot. He wants to actively participate in it. The topic of our prisoners in itself is less interesting for him, but in order to maintain good contact, he promptly told us the exact place where he personally shot the previously unknown burial place of 12 prisoners. His footage, which I inserted in Tashakor, shows a foot sticking out of the ground in Chinese sneakers. At that time, they simply were not in Afghanistan, this is our fighter.

The Mujahideen told him that there were 11 “Shuravi”, that is, Soviet soldiers and - unexpectedly - one Cuban. It’s hard to say who is Cuban in their understanding.

Did he give any other details ?”

- At the time of his stay in that unit, the burial was completely fresh. And when asked if there were any “Shuravi” alive, the detachment commander replied with annoyance that if he had come a little earlier, they would have shown them. The leader said that there was only one who was silent, and after he spoke, he would be beheaded. And they showed Harmon this man in chains, which we put on the movie poster.

  • Poster for the film "Tashakor"

- Yes, this is one of the most creepy and at the same time bewitching scenes of your picture, you can’t even believe that these are documentary shots. Do you know who this man was ?

“We don’t know exactly who he is.” On the record, the Mujahideen say that he is Soviet, but, as Harmon says, it seemed to him that it was more likely an Afghan. As a result, his head was chopped off. 

I think he shot this scene, but he didn’t put this scene in his documentary (and he shot three paintings on Afghanistan), and he didn’t give us. I hope that further acquaintance with him will give us more information. In general, I made a whole list of names scattered around the world, who were in the camp of the Mujahideen and who could see our prisoners there. Mostly creative intelligentsia.

“The Italian wanted to shoot a production shot with the captured tank, but he crushed him”

- As I understand it, among the Mujahideen, whom the West generously supplied with weapons and money, some representatives of these countries also fought ?

- Yes, the French helped them very actively, there were many doctors. There is evidence that the infamous Stinger MANPADS were often used in battle by people of European appearance. According to one version, the plane of the same Pantelyuk in 1987 was shot down by a Frenchman. I have a video where you can hear French or English. I know about an Australian, a Japanese - a master of martial arts, of course, Arabs and Americans. There was an interesting Italian, Raffaele Favero, who eventually converted to Islam and took up arms. He died in 1983, trying to shoot a staged shot in the Mujahideen detachment. They captured a tank, possibly an Afghan one, and decided to take off a beautiful driveway, putting “spirits” on the armor. And one of our prisoners was allegedly imprisoned for leverage, as, in any case, Sister Favero claimed. However, something went wrong, and the tank crushed him with a camera in his hands. I got a video of this incident in my hands, this is unique material, but even it’s hard to say whether this collision was intentional. It was not known for certain who this mechanic-driver of the tank was; on the record he has an Asian type of face. Perhaps this is an Afghan, but perhaps ours. Unfortunately, he was immediately executed after a collision.

  • Withdrawal of a limited contingent of Soviet troops from the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (Islamic Republic of Afghanistan)
  • RIA News

"Soviet prisoners of war have become a stumbling block"

- For many years, disputes about the need to send our troops to Afghanistan have not faded. What do you think of this ?

“I probably won’t be too original if I say that it was a mistake to bring in troops, but an even bigger mistake was to bring them out in the way that was done.” Indeed, in the agreement on the phased withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, signed in 1988 in Geneva, the problem of missing people was not indicated at all, and these are hundreds of our guys.

- Why did it happen?

- There is a whole complex of reasons, but in short, then prisoners of war for the parties to the agreement, primarily, of course, for the mujahideen and the West, were a stumbling block. Then no one knew that the USSR had only a few years left to live, therefore, when our opponents carefully avoided this point, we had to agree with this to sign the document. It seems to me that the theme of our prisoners was also not very convenient for Gorbachev, because not only amazing stories of patriotism could come up there, but also a lot of unsightly things. As a result, it turned out that they were not there. In addition to their parents and the aforementioned Vostrotin and Aushev, few people worried about their fate.

- What is the attitude of the Afghans to the United States, whose operation lasts twice as long as the Soviet one and it still won’t end ?

- America has invested huge money there. We helped construction projects, specialists, and weapons more, and they were more finances. Large provincial centers, compared with the 1980s, have changed for the better. Yes, Afghans sometimes take offense at Russians, but Americans hate much more, there was a lot of terror on their part. They are forced to live behind a six-meter fence at their impregnable bases. That is, on the one hand, they did not achieve great political results, and on the other, some kind of relative peace has now been established in the country.

* "Taliban" - the organization was recognized as terrorist by the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of February 14, 2003.