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Soviet troops pull out of Afghanistan in 1988. (wikimedia commons)

Soviet troops pull out of Afghanistan in 1988. (wikimedia commons)

Informer: More than 13K Soviets died in Afghanistan

Last Modified: Saturday, October 06, 2012 8:46 PM

By Andrew Perzo / American Press

How many casualties did the Russians suffer during their war in Afghanistan?

The Soviet Union, which invaded Afghanistan in December 1979 to depose an unwanted communist regime, reportedly suffered upward of 50,000 casualties, including 13,000 to 15,000 deaths. The war, which lasted 10 years, claimed the lives of about 1 million Afghan civilians.

According to documents found in Soviet archives, high-level Communist officials had counseled Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and other party officials to avoid military intervention in Afghanistan.

In a memo dated April 1, 1979, Andrei Gromyko, Soviet foreign minister; Defense Minister Dmitri Ustinov; Yuri Andropov, KGB chief; and Boris Ponomarev, a Communist Party Central Committee official, warned the Soviet leader that turning down a previous Afghan request for military forces had been the right thing to do and that sending large contingents of troops into the country would cause problems.

“Reactionary forces use slogans of extreme anticommunism and antisovietism. Their main political goal is the overthrow of the revolutionary democratic order and the creation of a ‘free Islamic republic’ in Afghanistan. ...,” the memo reads.

“It is clear that due to the internal nature of the antigovernmental opposition, the use of Soviet troops in repressing the Afghan counterrevolution would seriously damage the international authority of the USSR and would set back the process of disarmament.

“In addition, the use of Soviet troops would reveal the weakness of the ... government and would widen the scope of the counterrevolution both domestically and abroad, bringing the attack of antigovernmental forces to a much higher level.”

A decade or so later, an Associated Press story written during the withdrawal of Soviet forces referred to the war as “an intervention that has inflicted heavy damage on international relations as well as on the Soviet public.”

Today marks the 11th year since the United States invaded Afghanistan to topple the Taliban. More than 2,100 U.S. service members have died in the war.


‘Moon River’ LP certified gold

I would like to know if Andy Williams has a gold record for “Moon River”?


The album that featured the song went gold, as did 17 other Williams LPs over the years. Three of his albums went platinum.

“Audrey Hepburn sang it first in the 1961 film ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s,’ and it was nominated for an Oscar. But when the producers of the Academy Awards show asked Williams to perform ‘Moon River’ on the 1962 broadcast, his record label hatched a plan,” reads the Los Angeles Times’ obituary for Williams, who died Sept. 25.

“With four weeks till air time, Williams recorded an album featuring ‘Moon River’ and other ‘great movie themes.’ It was rushed into stores on Oscar day and by the next morning was on its way to being a hit.”



The Informer answers questions from readers each Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. It is researched and written by Andrew Perzo, an American Press staff writer. To ask a question, call 494-4098, press 5 and leave voice mail, or email

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