Russian pilot found alive 30 years after shot down in Afghanistan

A Soviet soldier who went missing after a battle in Afghanistan in 1980 was found alive in 2013, living in the Afghan city of Herat. (Courtesy: me.me)
Updated 02 June 2018

Russian pilot found alive 30 years after shot down in Afghanistan

  • RIA Novosti reported that during the course of the war between 1979 and 1989, 125 Soviet planes were shot down in Afghanistan
  • When Soviet troops pulled out in 1989, around 300 soldiers were listed as missing

MOSCOW: A Russian pilot who was missing presumed dead after his plane was shot down three decades ago during the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan has been found alive and wants to come home, Russian military veterans said Friday.
“He is still alive. It’s very astonishing. Now he needs help,” the head of the paratroopers’ union Valery Vostrotin told RIA Novosti state news agency.
Vostrotin, who heads the Russian side of a Russian-US joint commission on prisoners-of-war and soldiers missing in action, declined to name the pilot for reasons of confidentiality.
The man was shot down in 1987 and is likely now to be over 60, the deputy head of veteran’s organization Battle Brotherhood, Vyacheslav Kalinin, told the news agency, adding that he now wants to come home.
He suggested that the pilot could be in Pakistan, where Afghanistan had camps for prisoners of war.
RIA Novosti reported that during the course of the war between 1979 and 1989, 125 Soviet planes were shot down in Afghanistan.
When Soviet troops pulled out in 1989, around 300 soldiers were listed as missing. Since then some 30 have been found and most returned to their home countries.
Kommersant business daily reported that only one Soviet pilot was shot down in 1987, naming him as Sergei Pantelyuk from the southern Russian Rostov region, who went missing along with his plane after taking off from Bagram airfield, now a US air base, north of Kabul.
The head of a local veterans’ organization said that his mother and sister are both alive.
Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid also traced Pantelyuk’s 31-year-old daughter who was born months before her father went missing.
Senator Frants Klintsevich told RIA Novosti that this was far from the only such case. He said that he had met a former Soviet soldier on a trip to Afghanistan a few years ago who refused to give his name and spoke Russian with difficulty and said it was too late for him to go back.
Former Soviet soldier Bakhretdin Khakimov, who was interviewed by AFP in 2015, was one of those who opted to remain in Afghanistan. He was seriously wounded and was nursed back to health by local people and then converted to Islam.
He told AFP: “I stayed in Afghanistan because Afghans are very kind and hospitable people.”


Malaysia to hold election after ‘coronavirus is over’

Updated 48 min 50 sec ago

Malaysia to hold election after ‘coronavirus is over’

  • Muhyiddin’s eight-month-old administration has clung on with a two-seat majority in parliament
  • Malaysia is facing a new wave of coronavirus infections

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will hold a general election when the novel coronavirus pandemic is over, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Saturday, shortly after he averted a showdown by winning parliamentary support for his administration’s budget.
Parliament passed the largest-ever budget by a voice vote on Thursday despite weeks of threats by the opposition and some of Muhyiddin’s allies to derail the government’s 2021 spending plan, which could have triggered a crisis.
“God willing, when COVID-19 is over, we will hold a general election,” Muhyiddin said in a speech at a virtual annual general meeting of his Bersatu party.
“We will return the mandate to the people and leave it to them to choose which government they want.”
Muhyiddin’s eight-month-old administration has clung on with a two-seat majority in parliament, managing to fend off a leadership challenge from opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and contain growing dissent in the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), the largest bloc in his coalition.
Muhyiddin said he met UMNO President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi this week and they agreed to mend ties between their parties and avoid competing against each other when an election is called.
“I know the people are fed up with the unending politicking. The people want political leaders to help them, not constantly fight for power,” Muhyiddin said.
Malaysia is facing a new wave of coronavirus infections, with cumulative cases rising more than four-fold since September to more than 60,000 as of Friday.