Support The Moscow Times!

Russian Pilot Freed by Afghan Taliban After 18 Months Back in Moscow

Pavel Petrinko was seized along with at least one Afghan citizen and eight Turkish engineers after their helicopter made an emergency landing in the eastern Afghan province of Logar.

A Russian pilot freed by the Afghan Taliban after a year and a half in captivity has returned to Moscow and said he would give up flying — a condition that the Taliban had reportedly set for his release.

Pavel Petrenko, who arrived at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport on a flight from Kabul on Monday, said he had “no complaints” about the conditions of his captivity but intended to see a doctor immediately, the TASS news agency reported Monday.

“But I'm done with flights. There will be no more flights,” he said, TASS reported.

Petrenko was seized in April 2013 along with at least one Afghan citizen and eight Turkish engineers working for a construction company after his helicopter made an emergency landing in the eastern Logar province, Reuters reported.

The Taliban last week announced that it had freed Petrenko because he had fallen seriously ill, the report said.

He was released after “taking an oath that he shall never work with the Kabul regime in Afghanistan under any pretext but shall immediately leave for his country,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid was quoted by Reuters as saying in a statement.

The Turkish engineers on the flight were freed soon after the incident, the report said.

Petrenko told TASS that during his time in captivity he was allowed “one time” to make a phone call to his wife. A month before his release, he received a radio that allowed him to listen to news about the conflict in Ukraine, he was quoted as saying.

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

The Moscow Times’ team of journalists has been first with the big stories on the coronavirus crisis in Russia since day one. Our exclusives and on-the-ground reporting are being read and shared by many high-profile journalists.

We wouldn’t be able to produce this crucial journalism without the support of our loyal readers. Please consider making a donation to The Moscow Times to help us continue covering this historic time in the world’s largest country.