«Hello, my dear, dear mother, brothers Ahmet, and Albertik! With warm greetings to you Askat!
Also, huge greetings, to all my relatives and my friends.
I am now lively and healthy, my mood is good, the service is going fine. I decided to write another letter to you, without waiting for an answer from you…
Once again, I congratulate you, dear mom with 8th March International Women's Day!
I wish you, mom, in this beautiful day a lot of joy and laughter, fun and festive mood, and especially good, good health, and never, never get ill.
28.02.1979. goodbye! fromAskat.»
This is an excerpt from Gainullin Askat's letter to his mother and younger brothers. He had been drafted into the Armed Forces in 1978 and served in Afghanistan. On August 14, 1980, Askat had been mortally wounded in the head. His mother, Gainullina Zakira Abdulkhalilovna, lives in Sterlitamak.
My project is dedicated to veterans of the Soviet Army who had served during years (1979-1989) of the so-called «Afghan war». Particularly my story is about soldiers who returned or did not return to their hometown of Sterlitamak (Russia). In the early years of the Afghan war, soldiers were not allowed to tell parents about their service in Afghanistan, all letters were censored. Soldiers wrote that they were serving in some of the former Union republics. Even when some information about military service in Afghanistan was allowed, most often the guys did not report their whereabouts not to worry their mothers. In my project, I use letters from soldiers who were killed in action. Usually, it was the daytime when a military official came to parents to inform them that their son had perished in action and at night parents got a closed zinc coffin with sons body, the so-called «cargo 200». To date, 4 mothers are still alive in Sterlitamak. Like all veterans of Afghanistan, parents receive rewards for their perished sons. In my project I, present photos of these military and memorial rewards on the background of mother’s dresses.