The Michigan Daily-Friday, August 14, 1981-Page 5
Soviet citizens are
learning more about
their Afghan war
MOSCOW (AP)- Soviet citizens are
beginning to learn more about their
army's war in Afghanistan, despite
continuing official secrecy about major
battles and Soviet casualties.
More than 1% years after Soviet
troops poured into the neighboring
nation, Soviet newspapers are giving a
fuller picture of the hard life of Soviet
forces there and the difficulty of over-
coming anti-communist guerrillas.
RETURNING Soviet soldiers also
bring accounts from the front. They
range from reports of Soviet troops
being badly wounded to stories of young
officers who make their careers with
rapid battlefield promotions.
"Some people are alarmed over the
fighting, because there's no doubt the
situation there is difficult," said one
middle-aged Muscovite who requested
anonymity. "But there are people who
take a certain pride in it, too, who feel
the Soviet Union is showing its strength
and protecting its own frontiers by
being involved there."
The estimated 85,000 Soviet troops
are shoring up the pro-Moscow gover-
nment of President Babrak Karmal
against a wide variety of Moslem
guerrilla groups. Western sources put
Soviet casualties at a few thousand
dead and injured, but such estimates
cannot be confirmed.
ONLY RARELY does the Soviet
press make any reference at all to
Soviet army involvement in combat.
Most Soviet reports from Afghanistan
stress Soviet-Afghan friendship rallies,
Soviet army kindness to villagers and
the purportedly friendly attitude of
Afghan citizens toward Russians.
An exception, however, came this
week in a dispatch by the Soviet news
agency Tass that described the heroism
of a Soviet army sergeant in a battle
IT SAID SGT. Minzakhir Minikbayev
shielded his commanding officer with
his own body when a guerrilla opened
fire, and won a decoration for his
bravery. The sergeant, it said, was
treated at a hospital and released.
Western analysts claim the Soviet
army is largely on the defensive in
Afghanistan, tied down by scores of
small guerrilla actions and unable to
control large parts of the country.
In an article last week, the Soviet
youth newspaper Komsomolskaya
Pravda acknowledged that "of course,
service in Afghanistan is difficult."
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