ROSTOV-ON-DON, June 5. /TASS/. Relatives and friends of Soviet military pilot Sergey Pantelyuk, a resident of Russia’s Rostov Region, who went missing in Afghanistan 30 years ago, believe he was found there last week, the head of a local branch of the Mius-Front search-and-rescue organization, Elvira Berseneva said.
"Pantelyuk’s mother has been waiting for 30 years that her son will knock on her door. She has consistently maintained that he was alive and would come back. The whole military town is buzzing [with the news]. We published memoirs about the Afghan war. Eleven residents of the Zernogradsky district did not come back from Afghanistan, we buried 10 of them and Serezha is listed as missing," said Berseneva, who co-authored the memoirs on the Afghan war.
Pantelyuk’s mother lives in the Zernogradsky district in the Rostov Region while his wife and daughter live in Bataysk near Rostov. "We are waiting for good news - we hope that he is that person, the family would be so happy. He was able to receive a letter from his wife that his daughter had been born but she has never seen her father except for the photographs," Berseneva said.
The news that a Soviet pilot who was downed in Afghanistan in 1987 has been found alive came on May 31 from Valery Vostrotin, chairman of the Defense Ministry’s commission for prisoners of war, interned persons and servicemen missing in action, who co-chairs the Russian-US commission for POWs and missing soldiers. A source in the Boyevoye Bratstvo [Combat Brotherhood] veterans charity international fund said Russia received information from US colleagues dealing with the search for MIAs. However, the source said that person was another Soviet pilot Alexander Mironov.
Earlier, Kommersant daily wrote citing its sources that the Soviet pilot who was found in Afghanistan was Sergey Pantelyuk, from southern Russia’s Rostov Region. Senior Lieutenant Pantelyuk served in the 263rd separate reconnaissance air squadron in Afghanistan, the paper said. His Su-17 took off from the Bagram airfield on October 27, 1987 and was allegedly shot down by an air defense system, according to the report.
Viktor Vodolatsky, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma’s Committee for CIS Affairs, Eurasian integration and relations with compatriots, told TASS that three Soviet pilots who went missing in Afghanistan in 1987 were listed as MIAs.
Chairman of the Rostov regional organization of the Russian Union of Afghan Veterans, Ruslan Shamsudinov told TASS he would provide assistance if Pantelyuk wished to come back.