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A Soviet military’s biography: moving around from Vladivostok to Leipzig and facing stinger rockets in Afghanistan


Bogdan is a pensioner living in Minsk, Belarus. He was born in Lviv, Ukraine. His grandfather still lived during times when Lviv (formerly known as Lemberg) was a part of Austria before WWI. He always used to tell Bogdan that those were the best times when everyone was living well and there was order. Bogdan used to be a military and saw a fair share of the former Eastern Bloc during his many postings. He spent some time in Vladivostok and was later posted to Leipzig in East Germany for 3 years in the early 80s. He is still full of praise for the city, which then was the GDRs trade fair capital and generally in relatively good shape.

Bogdan was a helicopter pilot, steering the infamous gunship Mi-24 “crocodile” (also nicknamed Galina) during the Afghanistan war (1979-1989), arguably the Soviet signature weapon of the conflict. Nobody in his squadron was ever shot down, he asserted proudly, adding that the stinger rockets which the Americans were delivering to the Soviets’ Mujahidin opponents were causing serious problems. “We were sent there to help the Afghans against terrorists. We were there to defend their state,” he said, and to this day he is convinced that they had been doing the right thing. Later he was sent to Minsk on another military posting, where he happened to be when the USSR collapsed. So he stayed and has been living there ever since. He is nostalgic of the Soviet Union, when “we were all brothers, not just Ukrainians, Russians or Belarusians”.

Categories: Belarus Faces of the East