A missing soldier, who was last seen in 1980 during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, has been found alive and rescued by tribesmen.
Living under the name of Sheikh Abdullah, he was working as a traditional healer in the Shinand District of Afghanistan.
The Red Army soldier was tracked down by a team from Warriors-Internationalists Affairs Committee, a nonprofit, Moscow-based organization that leads the search for the former Soviet Union’s MIAs in Afghanistan.
“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,” the organization said in a statement posted on its website. “He now leads a semi-nomadic life with the people who sheltered him.”
The organization said it made contact with the man two weeks ago and while he had no identity papers, he made a positive identification of other Soviet servicemen who served at the time.
“He could understand Russian a little bit, but spoke it poorly, although he remembers his Uzbek language,” the organization said. “The effects of his wounds were clearly manifested: His hand trembles and there is a visible tic in his shoulder.”
The deputy head of the organization, Alexander Lavrentyev, told a news conference on Monday that Khakimov, originally from Samarkand, was nursed back to health by a village elder, a herbal healer, who taught him his trade.
“He was just happy he survived,” Lavrentyev, who personally met with Khakimov in the city of Herat in western Afghanistan in late February, was reported as saying by Russia’s RIA news agency.
But the former soldier — who married in Afghanistan, but is now a childless widower — was keen to meet his relatives, something the committee is working to arrange, Lavrentyev told reporters.
A local chief of police in Ghor province, Dilwar Dilawar, told CNN Khakimov converted to Islam in 1993.