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Last Updated: Friday, 17 December, 2004, 12:19 GMT
In pictures: Afghan tour of duty
Nikolai Prokudin 'after two weeks in the mountains' (photo courtesy of afghanwar.spb.ru)
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Soviet soldier in Afghanistan. The USSR sought to censor all coverage of the invasion 25 years ago but soldiers' private pictures today give some idea of the war through Soviet eyes. Photos by permission of Russian website afghanwar.
Rangers at Asadabad (photo courtesy of afghanwar.spb.ru)
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Soviet rangers in Afghanistan. Usually the photos are taken during rest periods but occasionally they capture the tension of a war zone.
Soldier with new 'Bonfire' grenade-launcher (photo courtesy of afghanwar.spb.ru)
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Soviet soldier with new Bonfire grenade-launcher. For many young Soviets, Afghanistan promised the glamour of a foreign war but the reality was usually tedium broken occasionally by sudden, mortal danger.
'Three friends' (photo courtesy of afghanwar.spb.ru)
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Three Soviet soldiers. Snaps taken by conscripts time and again show their friends brandishing guns and grenade-launchers.
Vasily Bobok, Soviet officer, in uniform and in disguise (photo courtesy of afghanwar.spb.ru)
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Soviet officer in uniform and in disguise. Shadowing the Soviet regulars were many crack units such as reconnaissance troops who prided themselves on their camouflage skills.
Soviet 'Cavalry', 1981 (photo courtesy of afghanwar.spb.ru)
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Soviet soldier on donkey. Humour is never far away in veterans' snapshots such as this one captioned by the author as "Cavalry".
Seryoga Reznik and his pet (photo courtesy of afghanwar.spb.ru)
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Soviet soldier with pet hedgehog. The original caption on this snap of a young soldier and his adopted Asian pet is "Two big-eared hedgehogs"...
Reconnaissance patrol in Baglan Canyon (photo courtesy of afghanwar.spb.ru)
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Soviet patrol through Afghan canyon. The forbidding mountains of Afghanistan are never far from the soldier's view-finder.
Nomads in south Afghanistan (photo courtesy of afghanwar.spb.ru)
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Nomads in south Afghanistan. Non-threatening Afghans who cross the path of the photographer often appear an exotic sight, straight out of oriental folk-tales.
Captured mujahideen at Asadabad, 1987 (photo courtesy of afghanwar.spb.ru)
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Captured mujahideen in Afghanistan. And sometimes the enemy appears in the Soviet veterans' albums, like these prisoners.
Soldier Andrei Bordyug 'leaving Afghanistan' (photo courtesy of afghanwar.spb.ru)
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Soviet soldier about to leave Afghanistan. This soldier is pictured at the end of his tour of duty, shortly before he returned to the USSR...
'Sidorenko roasting kebabs' - he was later killed (photo courtesy of afghanwar.spb.ru)
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... while the Soviet soldier roasting up kebabs here was one of the 15,000 who "did not make it back".

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