Afghanistan, 1983

What’s going now in Afghanistan is not for the first time.

27 years ago Russian army entered Afghanistan to help the Afghani president protect his power against the Islamic forces terrorizing the country.

Russian army stayed there 9 years and 1 months. It was opposed by troops lead by Usama Bin Laden who was that time officially sponsored by USA, in order to prevent a victory of USSR there and not allowing Soviet Union to establish there another regime supported by communists.

During these 9 years more than 14,000 Russian soldiers were killed, half thousand people were captured by the opposing Afghani forces. Practically all of them were forced to turn into Islam. And more than 50,000 Russian soldiers were wounded there and 10,000 of them continued their life as disabled as a result of the war.

But what can be most interesting is that just a few months after the Soviet troops left Afghanistan the radical Islamic movement took over the country again and was just becoming stronger and stronger until the USA troops came into a play. Now, when USA military presence is not high there it has been heard that only center of the country is being controlled by “democratically chosen president”, all the distant regions are again under the rule of radical Islamists. So probably there is no way on turning this country to Western system of good and bad.

On these photos you can see Russian soldiers together with Afghani ones, and some scenes from everyday life in 1983.

russian soldiers in afghanistan

russian soldiers in afghanistan

russian soldiers in afghanistan

russian soldiers in afghanistan

russian soldiers in afghanistan

russian soldiers in afghanistan

russian soldiers in afghanistan

russian soldiers in afghanistan

russian soldiers in afghanistan

russian soldiers in afghanistan

Special uniform hats were used in Afghanistan for Soviet soldiers.

russian soldiers in afghanistan

Photos are from Alexandr Prokopchuk, they were made by his father Nikolai who was shot dead in Januar, 1984 in Afghanistan, half year later after he made these photos.

31 thoughts on “Afghanistan, 1983”

  1. I feel very sorry for all the soldiers and people of Afganistan.I wish it couldn’t happen ever in any part of the world.
    As for the special hats.In the south republics of the former USSR all the soldiers wore these types of hats which protect them from the sun.

  2. It’s funny that Osama Bin Laden, a CIA agent in Afganistan, who fought against the Soviets at that time, is now the #1 enemy of USA, although they’re not even looking for him. Could it be possible that Bin Laden, a (ex-)CIA agent, organized 9/11 with the help of his employers, and for the purpose of destabilizing the world and giving the US a reason to attack any country they want on the basis of “anti-terrorist action”?
    I mean, if the US really wanted to find him, they would’ve done it by now, after 5 long years, no?

  3. Every american MUST watch Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. There are much interesting facts revealed about Bin Laden and Bush and “anti-terrorism” and…

    I don’t mean that what Soviet Union was doing in Afganistan really was good – probably it was kind of the same what USA did. But there’s no USSR now, and the US continue such kind of policy, making other countries “adopt” what they don’t need and hiding truth about reasons from their own citizens.

  4. The following is an excellent historical examination of Soviet Union’s last war:

    In my reading of Breshnev’s memoirs, he states that he turned down requests for military assistance 18 times before eventually siding with the politburo. The West immediately called this an occupation and invasion and today this is how many people describe the effort to stabilize Communism in Afghanistan.

    As the article above points out, the military leadership was blind to the underlying threat of religious fervor. I often reflect on the strategic oddity of “godless” communism and wonder if it may have been more successful if it aligned with communitarian ethics found in most major religions. The atheism of Marx and his followers made it easy to ignite the flames of religious opposition.

  5. afghanis were NOT led by osama bin laden, who is saudi in the first place. he played a very small role in the war, and is hardly worth mentioning.

    please get your facts straight.

  6. As the article above points out, the military leadership was blind to the underlying threat of religious fervor. I often reflect on the strategic oddity of “godless” communism and wonder if it may have been more successful if it aligned with communitarian ethics found in most major religions. The atheism of Marx and his followers made it easy to ignite the flames of religious opposition.

    Comment by Duane — October 20, 2006 @ 7:25 am

    Wow! This is something I have long considered– If Marx had had the foresight to know that religion could/should be an ally of the masses, rather than part of the status quo at that time (keeping kings in place via “divine right”, and giving the poor “false” hope in a better afterlife) communism might’ve actually managed to attain the utopian ideals it claimed to aspire to. Remember: the rank-and-file of the Orthodox Chruch was on the sides of the poor at the time of the Russian Revolution. Instead, by banning religion they “threw the baby out with the bathwater” and ended up doing away with humane treatment of their own citizens.

    If Marx had only pointed out Christ’s quote “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven” he might’ve saved millions of lives.

    In these photos I see a sad mirror of current events in Iraq: the army goes in to stabilize the country, and instead ends up creating chaos. The world is far more complicated than men can hope to understand, and events are often beyond the control of mere mortals.

  7. I wouldnt be surprised if these photos were shot on a LOMO– good solid utilitarian camera, one of a handful of products the Soviets got right.

  8. Ilych,

    I’m happy to hear that I’m not the only one who has observed the strategic error of atheism. Interestingly enough is that Lenin held a liberal view on faith:

    I quote:

    “Religion must be declared a private affair. In these words socialists usually express their attitude towards religion. But the meaning of these words should be accurately defined to prevent any misunderstanding. We demand that religion be held a private affair so far as the state is concerned. But by no means can we consider religion a private affair so far as our Party is concerned. Religion must be of no concern to the state, and religious societies must have no connection with governmental authority. Everyone must be absolutely free to profess any religion he pleases, or no religion whatever, i.e., to be an atheist, which every socialist is, as a rule. Discrimination among citizens on account of their religious convictions is wholly intolerable.”

    He regrettably continues on to advocate atheism and, for reasons which escape me, fails to see religious interest in the plight of the poor as an ally to the cause. For Christianity (my religion, incidentally) I’m persuaded by the following:

    32Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. 33With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. 35They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

    Acts 4:32-35 NRSV

    (apologies for the thread drift, but I’m sort of a history nerd)

  9. Hello.
    I’m very glad that you were interested in my father’s photos. However, it seems quite strange to me that you published them without informing me. I would surely have given my consent. And one more thing: you got it all wrong with the names: my name is Alexandr, my father’s name was Nikolai, and the right spelling of the last name is Prokopchuk.

    Good luck.

    • Dear Alexandr,

      We are currently working on an online course on Public Security and Terrorism with Concordia University and we would like to use the photographs of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan taken by your father.
      Would you consider giving us permission to use these photographs? Formal credit and acknowledgment, as well as a copyright notice in your favour will be indicated when they are used. For copyright notices, please indicate the exact name of the copyright holder of the photograph.
      Thank you,
      Johanna Manley
      (514) 848-2424 ext. 8931

      Montreal, Quebec

    • Alexandr, I am very sorry for the loss of your father, Nikolai. I find your photos very interesting, as I served in Afghanistan in 2002 with the US Army. As such I find myself looking at lots of photos of Russian soldiers in Afghanistan. Some day I would like to meet some Russians who served in Afghanistan. I think it would be very interesting to speak with them. Do you have any other photos from there? I would be interested in seeing them.

      • Iam very sorry, about all the people dead in this country, i live far away from you dear friends, but my whole heart is with all of you, i think the wars are not necessary anywhere, the unconcious people around the worl don´t let others to think in a different way politic or religious, are covering the earth of inocent blood. sometimes they said we are trying to save the world, but I´m not sure about that point of view. I´m surelly that if we change our minds and accept to the other like they are, maybe we´ll make a new world. I beg to God for blessing all the people dead in this conflict and give a place in heaven. god bless american army.

  10. Russia really had no place there, Afghanistan is very hard to control anyways. US was scared for Communism expansion so they offer money and training to the terrorists/rebels. Big mistake, as they turn the same stuff on US.

    It’s a backward country, women are owned like camel and have to wear funny looking head cover look like a ninja with rags. The men have sex with many women and have no respect whatsoever. There is drugs growing there and weapons trade, it’s a hell hole. US will not fix it because you need to change the people before you can change a country.

    The extreme islamists feel that US is invading middle east (which it partly is). So they resist any occupation, they want no part in government of Afghan. They not offer any deals or anything, they are fierce and fight till they die. They are quite crazy in a sense. So no hope for this country in my opinion.

  11. Osama bin Laden was never a CIA Agent at all. He was his own free lance agent funded by his wealth. The CIA did back a various assortment of groups which eventually became the Northern Alliance, which Russia ironically enough, backed as well.

  12. I agree with Ilych. Communism would be much more attractive if it hadnt been so intolerant with religions. In many aspects, religions an comunism have similar ideals. There are communist who say that Christ was comunist!!

    Russian ambitions in Afganistan have a lot of history. During XIX, the russian advance in Central Asia was a menace for british colonies. So, Afganistan was a region very atractive for both, Russians and British.

    In Soviet times, Central Asia was a very strategical area. American didnt want that Soviet Union reached Indic Ocean. Afganistan would be the first step, and Iran the second one.

    I dont know exactly if Soviet Union had plans to extend socialism so far. But atheism would have been a big problem.

  13. I’d like to hear the stories behind each of these photos. The overexposed one with the woman who is reaching out her hands is especially moving.

  14. Awesome article. Enjoyed reading this. Some good guidance here on your blog site, it is a good source. Taking a not of it instantly! All the best. Sally

  15. You know, 27 years later all of those pictures look like they could have been taken now in 2010. Nothing has changed over there since 1983. The only thing different would be that the pictures would be in color today instead of B&W.

  16. The Soviets committed a lot of atrocities in Afghanistan –raped women, burned villagers alive, killed men, women and children—and they didnt even know why they were there. Simply to follow the directives of the Kremlin, which at the time was just trying to spite their American counterparts in Washington. I have no sympathy for any of these soldiers as they had a chance to resist the war, but simply followed their orders of the superiors. The true Russian war hero’s are the ones who aided the Mujahideen in resisting Marxism, and the communists of Afghanistan at the time.

  17. afghans lost over 2million men.and I dont feel sorry for them they fight worst then woman hiding behind there woman and children not having the guts to were a uniform so they can be seen different from civilians keeping weapons hiding in Mosque,schools and hospitals risking the lives of civilians cause all they can do is terrorist attacks cause they can never fight on the battlefield in a conventional way.they used there children to clear the mine fields absolute garbage

  18. my son is in afganistan…he serves with the british army and he told me there is still loads of soviet kit all over the place!

  19. US always sabotaged USSRs intention to provide people with secular and normal societies. It was actually gorbachev who surrendered the USSR to its enemy. it was his one sided decision and later he introduced belazheva mobsters as well.

    May the US reap what it saw over there. A muslim extremism.

    May the glorious and much more better managed CCCP rise again.

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