Missing Soldier Found In Afghanistan: How Did Red Army Find Bakhretdin Khakimov After 33 Years?

By Staff Reporter on March 6, 2013 12:30 PM EST

Bakhretdin Khakimov
Red Army conscript Bakhretdin Khakimov was missing for 33 years. (Photo: Handout)

33 years ago, Red Army conscript Bakhretdin Khakimov was wounded during battle during the Afghan War. Soviet chiefs believed Khakimov was killed during battle in 1980.

Somehow, Bakhretdin Khakimov survived thanks to the mercy of the locals that rescued and cared for him. Since he recovered, Khakimov changed his name to Sheikh Abdullah and lived a new semi-nomadic life in the Middle East.

During his time as Abdullah, Khakimov married a local woman, who later died, and he now practices herbal medicine in the western province of Herat.

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The question is, how did we find Khakimov after he was presumed dead for 33 years? A veterans' organization launched an operation to search for 264 missing Red Army soldiers.

In total, some 15,000 Soviet soldiers and more than a million Afghans were killed from 1979 through 1989 as the Soviet-backed government of Kabul faught against majuhideen armed by Islamic neighbors as well as western countries including the United States.

At the time, the Soviet Union intended to create a modern socialist state, supporting the Marxist-Leninist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan.

Despite monumental efforts, the conflict resulted in a "military stalemate" by Feb. 15, 1989.

Bakhretdin Khakimov was an ethnic Uzbek.

"His memory is sound and he quickly gave the names of his parents, brothers and sister. He wants to meet his relatives," according to a veterans' organization spokesperson.

"It is very sad our parents did not live to see today. I can't wait to see him," said Sharof, upon learning that his brother Bakhretdin Khakimov was still alive.

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