tv Sophie Co RT July 21, 2014 11:29am-12:01pm EDT
welcome to. what happens when you find yourself at war at a very young age. when he was captured by the mujahideen in afghanistan ended up spending twelve years in war torn country serving as a personal bodyguard of the most powerful anti taliban leader ahmad shah massoud how did he go from captive to brother in arms what made him go native and why did he come home to rush out years later well nic i will strive is here in the studio to tell us his personal story. twenty five years ago the troops left afghanistan some soldiers however stayed behind. in a foreign are unsure of who is friend or foe stuck between two worlds what does it
take to change sides in the war how can you survive in captivity and can you ever go. the welcome to the show thank you very much for finding time your story is amazing and i know that you also go by another name. that's an islamic name which you consider your home country afghanistan or russia i have two home nations. russia is my first home the real one but i see afghanistan as home now as well. as you were only eighteen when you were sent to afghanistan did you realize where you were going and what you would face once you're there still needs. i knew nothing until they sent us to a boot camp in turkmenistan after six months in the boot camp they told us we were going to afghanistan. when you were told that you were had it there did you have
any idea what it would be like if they told us there was war were realise that afghanistan was another country but we had no idea what real war was like of course we were curious to see it with our own eyes but when we got there it was like we're on a different planet with all the mountains and gunfire around us and first we were intimidated but still we were curious to experience war firsthand because prior to that everything when you about war came from books like little boys but i did not see any action i was on guard duty had bugs air base of course so you were at this base yes that's right for how long about six months but if you were at the base the whole time how did you get captured we went on leave we headed to a nearby village to get some fruit without permission on our own would already have been there a couple of times before it was fine but on the fourth time we were caught in an ambush we were walking along the street and a few afghan boys ran up to us saying sure i'll be sure i'll be which means soviets
we asked them where the local store was where we could buy something and they said it's over there we can take you there and then as we were walking at some point they disappeared did they lie to you and i mean why did you trust them we never imagined little kids could trick us into an ambush that i would trust of them and it up captured how did it happen there were three of you yes that's right and how many people did they have they had many people there were two groups in the area immediately one of my friends was wounded in both legs another one was wounded and i was wanted as well and they surrounded us with their assault rifles and they kept shooting over our has to keep us down and they started yelling at us. telling us to get up and walk i could walk and my friend could walk but the other one the one who was wounded in the legs could not walk and they killed him so there was nothing we could do so they've they just tracked your way to an unknown direction they took us
to a village there were two groups there so they divided us one took me and the other took my friend so you were left all alone among afghan which i had seen and they too cute to their camp and what happened next what was it like what does a camp look like i was terrified the fear was alive felt they all had beards turbines on their heads armed with rifles yelling at me in their language the first things they showed me in the village were the bodies of soldiers and officers they had executed just lying there in the square i couldn't understand what they were seeing but i knew from the gestures that they were telling me that the same thing would happen to me so you thought it's the end of your life and yes i thought i was going to die but then they started moving me from village to village at night and i started thinking that perhaps they won't kill me behalves they would ask for. and where they keep you. initially when they captured me in parwan
province they kept me in a shed by. sometimes they would put me in a pit and then they took me to punch air and then. they took me to a village called luck that's where i met their leader masoud. they brought me to him and i was standing there exhausted bleeding with dirty and bloody bandages my teeth broken. they took me into a yard or two there were a lot of people sitting there a lot of people with special one of the mujahideen who used to be an engineer spoke a little russian he told me say hello to these people and i don't know why but i saw one person who looked different from others or there were about thirty to thirty five people there i don't know why i don't know how to explain this but he looked different so i walked straight to this man to greet him first. apostle.
and this was a much address it at that point i didn't know it was him. i thought i just thought i should say hello to their leader first and then two others when i approached him they grabbed me and pulled me back the guy who spoke russian asked me why did you go to him first so i said he seems to be the most important person here i just thought i'd greeting first and that's when masood loft told them to let me go they let me go and i said hello to him and then i went around the yard and greeted everybody. and how are you treated to eat decently or where you've beaten and starve to death do they treat you like a slave. i don't know why but the beating stopped after that incident they let me get washed up gave me some cold is bad news my wounds fed me and took me to a house where i lived it was only later that i think it out that this was the house
of my suit himself and all those people thirty to thirty five of them were all muscles guests. what did they tell you that you were going to die they didn't tell me anything. and as days passed i started hoping i would survive which of us is your life after you met my suit changed right. well it didn't happen over night. it that i was captured during the first punch air offensive. it was followed by the second offensive when soviet troops and pro-government forces attempted to bring the puncher valley on the control. meaning us the plane and then called his field commanders from all the provinces and told them to bring their prisoners to punch air. there were six of them and i was number seven. i was relieved to see some fellow russians but it was good
not to be alone because we didn't know what was going to happen next told the prisoners via translator the war is about to start i decided to set you free you can go wherever you like to the us iran pakistan switzerland or elsewhere so you are free now everyone was happy. he just wanted to say you're free. they sent everyone to pakistan first and then to other countries. but also all of us prisoners got together there were russians turkmen and uzbeks. but we didn't trust each other we never revealed our real background or one guy told me his name was son and that he was from ukraine but that wasn't true and when you know i am originally from the cross and our region but i told him i was from ukraine in my name was no straw of. david and we
didn't trust each other so all the guys said they were ready to go to pakistan. and some wanted to go to switzerland and france. only me and another guy stayed with me and i thought you were why did you stay like being a prisoner in afghanistan. in those days. soviet prisoners of war fear they would be treated as traitors if they came back home so i was afraid anyway i still had hope that one day i would return and that's why i didn't want to go to any foreign country that i knew i was soviet troops were still fighting in afghanistan. where message and the other was heading surprised by our decision that yes it was when the second punch air offensive was launched and must suit told the local population in the pan share valley to move to the north of ghana stand on
somebody who followed them and i went to the living he had five bodyguards they were old afghan men and i was his sixth bodyguard. by the time he told you be my bodyguard he offered the job. no as we were approaching the mountain pass he gave me a gun about. a month or so was a show of confidence in you. probably so he gave me a gun and told me i would go with him. with the night though that was quite a long and steep pass. i was the first to climb it and so i said down on a rock and waited for them to catch up on what they were going really slowly they go about twenty steps and then rest for a while and then continue and suddenly an idea flashed in my mind i decided to check the ammo. and i think the magazine in the rifle and additional
magazines were full with a massive hundred and twenty cartridges. and the gun was in good condition. and then i saw the flares of signal guns which meant soviet troops or pro-government forces were near you but if you think of us think of anything it's in the courts you know and then i thought maybe i should meet them you know well i'm wishing them well i thought. that maybe i should kill them including masood and run away but then i thought he had put his trust in me and as they caught up with me he said down on the rock to carve a flask a cord a cup of tea for everyone and he kept looking at me smiling as critical to how many years did you work with him. turn or
maybe eleven. ten eleven and you eventually became friends straight yes. or you ready to sacrifice your life for him like right away surely that's part of the job of a bodyguard no. that was later when i got used to working for him. but you were ready to die for him yes i was a bodyguard my job was to protect his life did he pay you for that. money yes although the pay was very small. i didn't have a family so i didn't need much. i shared the money with the other bodyguards the afghans to cajole them because i was afraid they would free me or speak badly about me behind my back which is what you left and which is yes i was a bodyguard and a muslim supports that i was still russian and elie into them. she will talk about
and we're back with michael i was thrown off a soviet soldier captured by afghans who a vet and served as a bodyguard for one of the country's most powerful commanders. like you said you converted to islam now did they force you to do it or was it your own decision. the mujahideen suggested that i should become a muslim when i say they never forced anyone when i said it was my decision. but i put in these quotes what how did it happen. you know as i had remained with masood they told me since you don't want to leave you'd better become a muslim. you can then get married someday so i became a muslim and several years later after the soviets had left on the pro russian
government of president and had been deposed we settled in kabul. then said that you. you don't want to go anywhere neither home or abroad are. you such a strange man you need to. get married and you had become a muslim by then yes. did you believe in god before taken prisoner yes i was baptized but was it difficult to convert to a different faith no even today i'm a muslim and a christian so you go to pray in church but also in a mosque yes wow you're really one of a kind well after all there's only one god. all right but how did you get married did they find you wife. yes the afghans found me abroad took me to her house and we met and i like her. did you see her face before hand. yes well at first she wore a burka. but then put on
a good job you sure saw that i was russian and asked whether she would marry me she said he's a muslim and he's one of us i agree and so we got married. came and read the prayers. we had a sort of a wedding and there were even some guests so you fell in love with her yes and right now you have three children together right. before you return to russia. that you did you have any contact with the taliban. well getting to some of the friends i had at the time later joined the taliban. why why did they join. it goes away well with the muscled fought against the taliban when he was in kabul when masood died and the foreign troops the americans invaded afghanistan most of the afghans who were loyal to masood joined to the taliban
so they don't want to join the taliban they want on their side why the night there was you know i spent many years in afghanistan. let me explain the people of ghana stand always say but if someone comes to conquer us we will never leave peacefully we will always fight against occupation. if you come to help us rebuild afghanistan you're welcome with but no weapons please. but the soviet troops came to afghanistan with weapons right. yes and the afghans for to get the soviet union but you regularly visit afghanistan and you probably know the attitudes of the afghans to this so it troops and to the americans troops. is there a difference or are they perceived as occupation forces well there's
a big difference in true both armies were occupiers but i must say the afghans really hate the americans they would tell me that the soviet union invested in afghanistan and help to build schools factories roads and bridges with that's what the people of afghanistan i met told me they said the russians help to improve life in afghanistan they now say that the americans keep the situation under control but it's only getting worse. first let's do that but why in your opinion i mean the americans have been in afghanistan for twelve years trying to bring some order. have they managed to do that which was i mean i think the afghans are invincible they're too independent minded they love freedom they don't want to see foreigners in their country and will fight a guerrilla war till the end. how can the taliban fighters who waged war on dunking so to speak put up such strong resistance against nato when this cutting
edge military technology still can't wipe out the taliban how is that possible how do you explain that you know the afghans are very strong at guerrilla warfare they do these he didn't run strikes which are always accurate but they get a lot of intelligence from ordinary people they know the territory much better and because of all this they are always one step ahead there americans kill a lot of fighters but their numbers are only increasing you mean the number of taliban is growing why is to local population that bolsters their ranks for me and i said yes most of the locals say they don't want armed foreigners in their country . and they will fight to the end. they're ready to do it we were. able to they help taliban because of fear maybe they're afraid no. one i don't know. if there's one more thing i think some countries are feeding them cash and
arms to prolong this fight. oh. who are they what do you think i mean he you must know because you're still in contact with those people where does the taliban get the funds for weapons quick men technology to resist nato which it must be some muslim countries you mean from outside from outside and muslims always help each other he also suggested before the interview that he could be americans who sell them the weapons. the taliban now has a big arsenal of american weapons where do they get them i think some of that mean deed come from the americans. what kind of technology do they have. do they really have cutting edge technology or is it oh out dated what do they use. i mean well outdated but they're still fighting well when our troops were in
afghanistan all convoys were attacked by mujahideen today we have a tell about who attacked the americans but. all the same. you save the afghans one all foreigners to leave their country but aren't there foreigners among the taliban as well yes they've got mercenaries they're everywhere they fight for money what do ordinary afghans think of these mercenaries do they support them just like the taliban they are from muslim countries they've come to help their brothers as they say but. you know what but i think no one cares that they are paid to fight. so this is how you might have the backing of the majority of afghans or are there only limited areas like border regions where they enjoy the support it is true so the majority the majority of the nation supports
the taliban but you know. afghanistan is such an unpredictable country who knows. what's up not see what part of the territory does the taliban control today. the taliban fighters operate in all the provinces so there's somebody in our province yes and it's still a very strong force still with the west so the united states has been in afghanistan for twelve years trying to dismantle and destroy the taliban and now they're going to withdraw only to see the taliban return to power it does appear that the u.s. has wasted their effort that we know. just like the soviet union withdrew from of ghana stand up to the u.s. has attempted to control the situation but despite that the number of taliban fighters has been increasing across until the americans leave the afghans say the
taliban will continue fighting. what they say they say about the soviet soldiers while. many say that it's better to have a close neighbor than a faraway friend. it means they regarded us as their neighbors. they say that russians help them and invested in afghanistan now they say their countries heading towards disaster. they know this soviet war in afghanistan officially ended twenty five years ago and for you at that point. no. today together with the special committee where still searching for prisoners and remains of former soviet soldiers. i regularly travel to afghanistan to carry out searches there. and we've been able to return about thirty soldiers both alive and dead so you mean soviet prisoners of war
yes yes. some of them died there and some were captured there are many more people left their job is to bring them home the war is not over while our soldiers are still on afghan soil i would use that that was what do you have a feeling that the so its soldiers were better able to understand the afghans than the americans today. i think. yes you know i met with some former fighters. and as they say the soviet troops at the ford better than the americans over oh they were young so they were better of fighting yes. so brightly as. they say the soviets sent in troops first while the americans bomb everything first
. and this is where all the ground troops yes were sent in troops first said mean that they had more respect for the soviets they see a real soldier should be like that. all right well thank you very much nicole iowa for sharing this amazing story of your life with us today i wish you all the best i wish you happiness and good health thanks again. or talking to the guy was tall for a former soviet soldier turned afghan which i had seen a fight he gave us an amazing insight of what it's like to be a war captive in afghanistan and also shared out some of these thoughts of what could happen after the american troops leave the country and that's it for this edition of sophie and co and stay tuned for next time.
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