Russian Soldiers Defecting and returning to Russia

Has any post-Glasnost information ever come out on the fate of the two Russian soldiers who defected in Afghanistan, were given asylum in UK and then were enticed to return of their own free will, to Russia?


Book Reviewer

I remember the two lads you are referring and have often wondered myself. I recall a statement by a Soviet spokesman at the time assuring that there would be no negative repercussions for them as they had just found a way back home via the West.

Your post spurred me into doing a bit of digging and I found that there had been an amnesty in 1988 offered by the USSR to all Soviet soldiers who had defected whilst in Afghanistan. This article in the New York Times relates how six such defectors in North America rejected the offer.


Published: July 16, 1988

LEAD: Six Soviet soldiers who defected or were captured while serving in Afghanistan said in New York yesterday that they were skeptical of a recent Soviet offer of amnesty and that they wanted to remain in the West.

Six Soviet soldiers who defected or were captured while serving in Afghanistan said in New York yesterday that they were skeptical of a recent Soviet offer of amnesty and that they wanted to remain in the West.

In a vehement exchange with Soviet journalists and officials of the Soviet Mission to the United Nations, the former soldiers said there were ''no guarantees'' for those who return.

''Don't be shy,'' said Dmitri Titov, counselor to the Soviet Mission. ''If you wish to be in contact, call the Soviet Embassy in Washington. Nobody will drag you out of the United States.''

The encounter took place during a two-hour conference conducted in Russian and English and sponsored by Freedom House, a Manhattan-based human rights organization. All Have Asylum

Five of the Soviet soldiers present have received political asylum in the United States. The other has been given political asylum in Canada.

The treatment of returning prisoners of war is a sensitive issue in the Soviet Union because of suspicion that the former prisoners may have deserted or collaborated with their guerrilla captors. In World War II, Soviet citizens who were held prisoner were often shot or exiled to Siberia on their return.

Mr. Titov read a proclamation by the Soviet Procurator General, issued on July 4, offering full political and civil rights to Soviet soldiers held captive in Afghanistan and amnesty to those who have received asylum in the West. Moscow lists 311 Soviet citizens as missing in Afghanistan. 'It's Not for Me'

''That's great, but it's not for me,'' said Igor Kovalchuk, a 27-year-old Ukrainian who was held prisoner for four years by Afghan guerrillas and who has received asylum in Canada. ''Why go home to be set up?'' he said. Bruce McColm, executive director of Freedom House, welcomed the Soviet offer but questioned whether the amnesty could be guaranteed. He cited the case of Nikolai Ryzhkov, an Afghanistan defector who was persuaded to return and then sentenced to 12 years in prison. Mr. McColm said Mr. Ryzhkov was released on Wednesday.

Another of the Soviet citizens, Vladimir Romchuk, expressed gratitude to President Reagan ''for taking a personal interest in us.'' He said that on Jan. 27, Ludmilla Thorne, a Soviet specialist working for Freedom House, gave the President a list of 18 soldiers still inside Afghanistan, including 4 of the 6 present yesterday. ''President Reagan promised to help us come here and he did,'' Mr. Romchuk said. 'Too Late' for Some

Taras Derevlyany, a 20-year-old Ukrainian who joined the guerrillas three weeks after arriving in Afghanistan, welcomed the amnesty but said it should have been issued long ago.

''I do not want to return, and those in the West should stay,'' he said. ''When all the country is free, I will go home.'

Khadzhimurad Suleimanov, 25, a sergeant who defected in 1982, said: ''They make this offer now when it's too late. I was held captive five and a half years and the Soviet Government offered no help, no interest.''

Mansur Alyadinov, a 25-year-old Crimean Tatar captured by guerrillas in 1983 while serving as a tank commander, asked how the amnesty could be trusted when the Soviet authorities had violated ''so many other promises.''

Mr. Titov said the amnesty could be verified through Freedom House and through the relatives of the former soldiers in the Soviet Union.


If a Russian pisses off the authorities (or a wise guy) over even a fairly minor matter, then their life can end up being fnucked quite quickly - loss of housing/ job/ passport and/or other vital documents, good shoeing by the militsia (cops) on a regular basis, etc. I have not heard about the fate of returning deserters, but I'd wager they and their families have not had much fun since they got back...
Many thanks for the feedback, guys.

I believe the return was in 1984, and well before any amnesty
as far as I'm aware.

To the best of my recollection, the two, who had defected to the Mujahideen, disappeared in London where they had been granted permission to stay. They ended up in the Russian embassy and were subsequently escorted back to Russia. UK Foreign Office staff were allowed to interview them at Heathrow but the two insisted on returning, saying that they had been given assurances that they would be treated lightly.

I did hear quite a while later that the sgt, Sgt I. Rykov, had been court-martialled and executed but I don't know how true that is.

If true, what a bummer, standing in front of the firing squad thinking, "Why did I believe them?"


Book Reviewer
Resurrected this thread because I stumbled onto this BBC item on Aleksandr and Gennady. Two Soviet soldiers from the Ukraine who stayed on in Afghanistan. Aleksandr defected, but Gennady was captured and converted to save his life and obviously wants to go home.


Her's another account from a Red Cross official who tracked down and tried to repatriate Soviet POWs.

Mountains never meet


War Hero
Book Reviewer
Bizarre.....never knew any of that. Makes you wonder whats going on with that US para that walked out of his base.

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