When in Moscow and Kabul raised glasses of champagne, Tkachev with a translator Max went beyond the line of adobe duvalov on the outskirts of Anava kishlak. They went in the direction of the territory controlled by the Mujahideen, our military usually moved there only on armor. On this occasion, the Soviet guards were removed from here for an hour to the rear. No living soul should know about Tkachev’s entry into the field, except for Pavel Grachev, but he didn’t know where the intelligence officer was going or why. Asked for silence - please remove posts - no problem. And then not our business. Questions in such matters are not accepted.
Tkachev and Max went along the bank of the River Pandscher, trying to stay away from the road. In Afghanistan, catching a mine on the sidelines was a snap. After a mile and a half, Max launches a red rocket. From the ledge of the rock in response, green flies up. There they were waiting for a group of people. One of the Afghans read a prayer, after which the group went on.
The military leader in Pandshara was Ahmad Shah Massoud. Thirty-year-old Tajik, a former student of the Faculty of Architecture, expelled from Kabul Polytechnic University for belonging to the opposition Islamic Society of Afghanistan.
Anatoly Tkachev and Merdod Pandsheri.
From the file of the GRU General Staff. Secret: “Ahmad Shah, alias Masood, which means lucky. Possesses outstanding personal and business qualities. Unbending in achieving their goals. Holds this word. Clever, cunning and cruel opponent. An experienced conspirator, secretive and cautious. Vain and lovingly. "
The Pandshir Gorge became a headache for the Soviet command within a few months after the deployment of troops. A long narrow strip of land along the river, clutched on all sides by rocks, connects the north of the country with the center of Afghanistan. Connects those who know trails and passes. For the rest - it is impassable mountains. In the depths of the gorge, in inaccessible places there were bases for training and treating militants, repair and assembly plants. weaponsand, most importantly, mines where lapis lazuli and emeralds were mined.
Who owns the Pandscher, he controls the Salang Pass. And Salang is the key to Kabul. Fuel, ammunition, foodstuffs and medicines are being transported through it. And on this artery, almost daily, Mujahideen troops from the gorge were attacked by the supply columns of the 40 Army. Burned cargo and bulk cars, people died. Nine offensive operations were conducted at Pandcher. But it was not possible to establish control over the gorge. Either the militants and civilians warned by someone left the villages several hours before the attacks, or the skillful actions of the Mujahideen did not allow units and subunits of the 40 Army to break into the gorge. In Pandscher there was even a semblance of the front line. 345-th opdp deployed here twenty outposts. They controlled the entrance to the gorge. But no more than that. The patrimony of the Mujahideen began further.
The Soviet command did not like this situation. How to stabilize the situation in Pandscher? The answer to this question was ordered to give the GRU lieutenant colonel Anatoly Tkachev. In the summer of 1982, he was sent to the gorge. The authorities every day demanded that the lieutenant colonel recipe for neutralizing Masood. The question of physical elimination was dropped immediately. The absolute support of the local population did not allow Ahmad Shah to be taken by surprise.
If the enemy can not be destroyed, you can try to make him a friend. Masood was suitable for this role. He was not a fanatical Islamist, not seen in the cruel treatment of prisoners, the arms trade and drugs. Fewer than other field commanders depended on material assistance from abroad. Every Pandsherets, in whatever corner of the globe he lived, gave ten percent of his income to jihad, and the deposits of precious stones ensured the possibility of purchasing weapons in the Middle East. Masud did not experience a pathological hatred of the Russians, the war was not an end in itself. This is a means to force foreigners to leave Afghanistan and start building their own political career on this.
Tkachev begins to look for approaches to Masud. At the same time, a large group of activists from the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan is arriving from Kabul to Pandscher. Her goal is advocacy with the local population. Dehkans must return to their fields. Dilapidated deserted villages - bad campaigning for the new system in Afghanistan. It worked the carousel of war. Mujahideen from the village fired at the Soviet column, its commander called helicopters or artillery support. Residents left their homes and hid in the mountains. Many went to Kabul and even to Pakistan.
The activists were led by Merdod Pandsheri, an economist by training. Every evening, the gray-haired adviser, as the Afghans called Tkachev, invited Merdod to come over for tea. Both spoke good English and found many topics for conversation. Both understood that a truce would have ensured the security of Soviet units. In response, there will be no strikes on the villages and the peasants will return home. And once Tkachev asked a question in the forehead.
From the interview with Anatoly Tkachev to the author: “Is there any opportunity to come into contact with Ahmad Shah?”. He asked: "To whom?". I say: "To me." He looked at me in surprise, says: "I do not know." I say: "Well, let's try." "And are not you afraid?". I say: "Well, if you try ... What is there?" You can try everything, why be afraid? ”.
It was a personal initiative of the lieutenant colonel. Such actions without the sanction of leadership could cost him at least a chase.
The head of the GRU General Staff, General Peter Ivashutin, arrives in Moscow from the capital of Afghanistan. Tkachev reports to him about the possibility of establishing contacts with Massoud. The general agrees in principle, he is tired of standing on the carpet in the Old Square on the occasion of every successful raid by the Mujahideen. His entourage clings to the idea of handing Masuda a souvenir filled with explosives. The general rejects the proposal, but demands that Tkkachev at any cost ensure that Masood lay down his arms and leave the game. The lieutenant colonel argues, trying to prove that if the enemy is not defeated, he will not capitulate. Fortunately, Ivashutin was one of those generals who knew how to listen. But he categorically forbids Tkachev to hold a meeting on the territory of Masud. Only on neutral ground. With great difficulty, the scout convinces him that there is no neutral land in Pandscher, and besides, the Afghans will never touch a guest in their home, even if it is their opponent. The general is inferior.
Kishlak Anava. Such a picture in Afghanistan is not uncommon
But the Mujahideen should not know who Tkachev represents; he is not authorized to sign any contracts. Only oral gentlemen's agreement. Afghans do not attack Russians, Russians do not fire at villages. Agreement that is called, with an open date. Until the first shot.
Tkachev returns to Pandscher. The hard work with intermediaries begins. A key figure in the preparation of negotiations becomes Merdod Pandsheri. In Afghanistan, one brother often fought for Masud, and the other served in the KhAD, the security service of the Kabul regime, which was hunting Masoud, which did not prevent them from meeting at the family hearth in Pandscher. Such people and built bridges for future negotiations. Masood learned that the Russians are interested in meeting him.
Tkachev writes a letter to Masuda, in which he asks for a meeting, the goal is the possibility of concluding an armistice. The letter is carried by Daoud, a faithful person, Merdod's assistant. Two days later he returns. There is no written answer yet, but in words the leader of the Mujahideen conveyed that he was ready to discuss the possibility of a meeting. Just before it asks to come to him of Merdod Pandsheri. No wonder. Masood was afraid to fall into the trap. He tried to eliminate many times. At the airfield in Bagram, two attack aircraft were constantly on duty, ready to strike at the seat of Masud. True, to find out where this place is, could not succeed.
Masood could only make contact with a man whom he knew well. And Merdod was his childhood friend. And Pandshheri goes to Masuda's headquarters through minefields, risking every second to get under the fire of the Russians or the Mujahideen. He was gone for three days. And for three days the lieutenant colonel did not find a place for himself.
Murdod did not return empty-handed. Masud sent a sealed letter to Tkachev in which he wrote that he agreed to meet at half past nine in the morning on January 1, 1983, at Tazmutdin’s house, not far from his native village, Bazarak. And he personally guarantees absolute safety to the gray-haired adviser.
Fourteen kilometers to Bazarak walked silently for more than four hours.
To the dilapidated house of Tazmutdin came to the morning prayer. A hot-heated stove, tea with bread and honey, and immaculate courtesy of the owners said that they were received as guests, not as parliamentaries of the enemy. Accompanied Afghans went to visit relatives. Russian offered a little sleep.
Tkachev with Max and three mojaheds with machine guns remained in the room. The guards not only did not close their eyes until dawn, but they did not crouch.
From the furniture in the room only carpets, on which the guests had to pass the rest of the night. Tkachev was struck by the fact that, for all the modesty of the situation, they had bedded white sheets and fresh blankets. But the dream did not go to the lieutenant colonel. He pondered the upcoming meeting. In the morning the hosts appeared with apologies from Massoud. He lingered a bit, but asked not to sit down without him for breakfast. Again tea and meaningless talk about the weather and children. Both Russians and Afghans are stretched to the limit.
At twenty minutes to ten, Masud’s handler entered and said that in five minutes Amirsaib (commander) would be here. All these five minutes, the Afghans stood at attention. The Russians had no choice but to follow their example. The authority of Masud in Pandshara was indisputable, despite the fact that he personally did not take part in hostilities with a machine gun in his hands. Restrained manners and the habit of speaking calmly, a little ingratiatingly did not betray the charismatic leader. Only the eyes constantly forced the interlocutor to keep a distance. They always stayed cold - even when Ahmad Shah joked. This author has repeatedly felt on himself during meetings with Massoud. No wonder in the gorge he was called Pandshirsky lion.
Ahmad Shah, according to Afghan custom, twice embraced the lieutenant colonel. The traditional Eastern ritual of the introductory conversation began. Weather, health. Then the owner invited him to breakfast: they say that a serious conversation on an empty stomach will not work. Three teenagers laid out a carpet that served as a table. At breakfast, they talked mostly about parents and children. Mix food and things here is not accepted. Then Masud invited Tkachev to the garden, making it clear that it was time to start the main part of the meeting. Only now the lieutenant colonel saw that part of the house was destroyed by a shell.
From the interview with Anatoly Tkachev to the author: “This is fraternal international assistance,” says Masood, “Soviet troops to the friendly Afghan people.”
Without waiting for the reaction of Tkachev to his words, Masud began to speak himself: “If you come to persuade us to surrender, it is better not to waste time. Every day I am bombed by such proposals from the envoys of Kabul. They then offer me honorary positions, or threaten to erase. But, as you can see, I still feel pretty good here. We were born in this gorge and will not leave anywhere. I will fight until you leave. ”
After listening to Masud, Tkachev said only one phrase: “I want to offer you peace. At least for a while. ” Masood paused for a minute and said, "Let's go back to the house."
From an interview with Haji Hasmuddin, Massoud’s intelligence officer, to the author: “When the losses on both sides became very large, Masud gathered a shura (council of elders) and took the issue of negotiations. All as one, they said "yes." But the full end of the war was not discussed. Only truce.
In the house, Tkachev had only two minutes to present the proposal of the Soviet side. He remembered him by heart, since no notes were allowed to be kept. The project consisted of two points - the Mujahideen do not attack our garrisons and columns, and the 40th Army does not inflict artillery and aviation strikes against villages. Everything was extremely simple. Nothing is recorded on paper. Any spontaneous fire contact brings a line under the agreement. The war could resume at any moment.
Masood agrees with the cease-fire proposal, but puts forward his own terms. The last word should remain for him. The Russians were asked to withdraw their battalions from the Pandshir villages of Anava and Ruh, leaving only a small garrison right at the entrance to the gorge. Tkachev can not assume such obligations. He honestly talks about this to Masud. He agrees to wait until the gray-haired adviser reports on the situation in Kabul and in Moscow. At this first meeting ended. After some time, the lieutenant colonel returns. Consent obtained. The truce is sealed only handshake. For almost the entire year, 1983 did not shoot at Pandscher.
Subsequently, the lieutenant colonel was awarded the Order of the Red Star. A very modest reward for saved lives. Murdodu Pandshéri was less fortunate. He was accused of betraying the cause of the people’s revolution and, after brutal torture by order of Najibullah, was thrown into prison. There he spent seven years.
Neither peace nor war
More than one-on-one, neither Tkachev, nor his colleagues met Massoud. Ahmad Shah gained political weight, and contacts with Russians could harm him in the eyes of the faithful Muslims. But the truce, launched, continued to work, albeit with interruptions. By order from Moscow, Soviet troops repeatedly attempted to take control of the gorge. As a rule, unsuccessful. At times it seemed that we were in a shadow fight. Soldiers and officers believed that the whole thing was a betrayal of the Afghan allies.
But the blood in the gorge continued to flow. Those few commanders on both sides who knew or guessed about the arrangements could not ensure peace. The Soviet command carried out offensive operations, the Mujahideen fiercely resisted.
In 1988, the withdrawal begins. Masud makes it clear that he will not interfere with the trouble-free departure of Soviet units. Our scouts coordinate actions with the people of Ahmad Shah.
From an interview with the author of GRU reserve colonel Dmitry Veretennikov: “Every two weeks, as a representative of Varennikov, I met with Mullo Gauss in Salang, whom Masood appointed commandant of Salang.”
It seemed that the end of the war would not be as bloody as its beginning. But in January, 1989, Eduard Shevardnadze arrives in Kabul. He announces the decision of the Politburo to strike at Salangu and its environs. The Kremlin is confident that in the last days, before the final departure of the 40 Army, Masood allegedly inflicted a treacherous stab on her back. The commander of the group, General Varennikov, and Ambassador Vorontsov, persuade Shevardnadze to abandon Operation Typhoon, as she was named on the General Staff. This will lead to unjustified civilian casualties and ruin relations with Afghans for a long time. Shevardnadze is adamant. He is supported by Najibullah. He hopes that the attack will cause the reaction of the Mujahideen, the whirlwind of the war will start again and the Soviet troops will be forced to stay. In late January, the blow was struck. Several dozen villages have been destroyed. Killed more than a thousand civilians. Afghans put the bodies of killed children in the snow before the eyes of Soviet soldiers leaving their country. Masood ordered the Russians not to shoot. Before the end of the war there was less than a month.
Masood is buried on a high hill on the outskirts of his native village Bazarak. Not far from the house where he met with Tkachev. Ahmad Shah after these meetings fought for another twenty years. First with other warlords for control of Kabul. Then with the Taliban, who for two years managed to defeat a strong, well-armed army of Mujahideen. Two hours before the Taliban broke into the capital, he comes to his sworn enemy Najibullah and offers to take him out of the besieged city. Najibullah refuses. Soon he will take the painful death at the hands of religious fanatics. Masood goes to the north of the country and defends the last center of resistance to the Taliban there. And here fate brings him back to the Russians. Now we are no longer partners in negotiations, but allies. Russia supplies the Northern Alliance created by Massoud with weapons. And who knows how events would have developed in Afghanistan if it were not for the explosion of a bomb disguised as a camcorder battery, at Masud's bid in 2001.