Soviet Media Praise Troops Leaving Afghanistan With AM-Afghanistan, Bjt
MOSCOW (AP) _ State television showed the ceremonial departure from Kabul of some of the last Soviet soldiers Monday and praised what the soldiers had done, but it did not mention the misgivings some expressed.
It said they were the last Red Army soldiers in the Afghan capital. But others remained after the plane left, and a colonel said they would be gone by Wednesday, the deadline for Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The evening television news program ″Vremya″ began its international segment with videotape from Kabul and the border town of Termez in what has become a nightly ritual as the pullout nears its end.
Media reports generally praise the soldiers for ″fulfilling their internationalist duty″ in Afghanistan and stress the themes of patriotism and heroism.
Soviet soldiers were shown at the Kabul airport Monday standing in front of transport planes and a crowd of foreign reporters. The troops, the broadcast said, had helped distribute food to the capital, which has suffered shortages as anti-government guerrillas enforce a blockade.
″It occurs to me that this will not be forgotten by the thousands of women, old women and children of Kabul,″ the ″Vremya″ correspondent said.
The correspondent then interviewed Vyacheslav Ryabinin, the last soldier at the airport to board a Soviet plane for home. He said he had served one year and four months and was looking forward to rejoining his relatives in the Soviet Union.
The soldiers then were shown boarding a transport plane and flying home.
″After a command, the last Soviet soldiers of the Kabul garrison scaled the ramp,″ the official news agency Tass said in an upbeat report. ″Ryabinin waved his hand and the metal door of the plane was closed. The liner took off, heading for the Soviet Union.″
Neither the Tass nor ″Vremya″ reports mentioned the misgivings some soldiers have expressed after the nine-year Soviet intervention. One 20-year- old paratrooper told The Associated Press at the airport before departing: ″I think it could have been done peacefully. I think it was a big mistake.″ He did not give his name.
Wednesday is the deadline in a U.N.-mediated accord for the Soviet Union to have all its troops out of Afghanistan. The Kremlin sent more than 100,000 soldiers into the country in December 1979. Tass said Monday that more than 3,000 soldiers a day were streaming through the Soviet border towns of Termez and Kushka.
″Vremya″ showed armored personnel carriers carrying red flags crossing into the Soviet Union at Termez. Women carrying red roses and red carnations stood waiting for their loved ones. The correspondent said World War II veterans were among those welcoming the returning soldiers.