The son of a Soviet officer, Alexandre was sent to military school at age 17. By that time, the Afghan War had already been going on for two years, yet very few people were aware of it. Alexandre found out about it by accident, but he soon understood the scope of military intervention in the field. From 1986 to 1988 he served in the intelligence services in Afghanistan. By the time Soviet troops left Afghanistan, Alexandre had achieved the rank of secret-service officer. Over the past few years, Alexandre has written several novels in which he describes and analyzes his military experience.
- Wroclaw (Breslau) is one of the biggest Polish cities and it is also the centre of the Silesian region. Wroclaw was part of the German Empire after World War I. Since 1945 and under the administration of the Polish People‘s Republic, the city of Wroclaw had been rebuilt and a lot of historical monuments had been restaured, for instance the Wroclaw town hall.
- Wroclaw, Poland, 1990
- The postcard was sent to Kartsev by an officer of the KGB who was working in Poland at the time, to inform him that "the mission" had been accomplished.
- Postcard Text
- My hearty greetings to you! I’ve already sent postcards to Vasya and Igor, but I don’t know whether they received them. In the month of August (10-18) I’ll be attending the … Congress in Moscow. If you have time and occasion, we can meet in “our circle”. I’ve been doing well till now. I’m preparing to leave for holidays (until …) it’s time to have some rest. Should you have any need, please, write to me. Get my address from Vasya. Misha
The Afghan outpost. Kartsev was sent to Afghanistan as soon as he graduated from military school, in 1985. At the time, there was a huge loss of officers, so recruitment in military schools and academies was increased. This shed is one of the first of Kartsev’s construction jobs in Afghanistan: the points of duty at the outpost were in the open air. These constructions were built to protect soldiers on watch duty both from the sun (the temperature often reached 50C) and from snipers’ bullets.
Kartsev playing dominoes with a local resident. Kartsev was officialy sent to Afghanistan as a commander of the automatic grenade launchers platoon. His real task, however, was to get closer to some Afghani leaders to prepare the delegation of powers to the locals chiefs before the Soviet Army withdrew.
Two cars with Soviet soldiers liberated by Kartsev in 1988. The chairman of district defense, Colonel Vahid, asked Kartsev to go with his people to get back two cars that had been by mujahideen. This event marked the end of the “no-fear period“. The officer who was supposed to replace Kartsev broke his leg and was sent to hospital for a month. It was at that time that Kartsev began to fear the war and to want to go home.
Kartsev in front of an Italian villa, Afghanistan, late 80s. Near the military camp, there was a small Italian colony consisting of three families. They lived in a villa built in classical European style with a rose garden and fountains. They had a mill that ran on diesel, which helped them to maintain a relatively high standard of living.