Putin awards Hero of Russia title to GRU veteran for courage in Soviet-Afghan war

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© Alexei Druzhinin/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS

MOSCOW, February 15. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has conferred the title of Hero of Russia on Afghan war veteran Vladimir Kovtun for his courage and valor, the Kremlin press office reported on Friday.

The presidential decree on awarding the Hero of Russia title comes as Russia marks 30 years since the pullout of Soviet troops from Afghanistan.

“To confer the title of Hero of the Russian Federation on Kovtun, Vladimir Pavlovich, for heroism, courage and valor displayed when fulfilling special assignments under conditions that posed life-threating danger,” the presidential decree reads.

Vladimir Kovtun was born in 1960. After his compulsory military service, he enrolled at the reconnaissance faculty of the Ryazan Higher Airborne Command School in 1980. After graduation, he served in the 10th special brigade of the General Staff’s Military Intelligence Directorate (GRU) in Crimea.

In 1985-1987, he fought in the 186th separate squad of the GRU’s 22nd Special Forces Brigade in Afghanistan.

On January 5, 1987, as part of a reconnaissance team led by Major Yevgeny Sergeyev during the battle of Meltanay Gorge (the province of Kandahar), Senior Lieutenant Vladimir Kovtun captured documentation and a sample of the Stinger shoulder-fired air defense system, which the United States had been supplying to the Mujahedeen.

Overall, during his military service in the Special Forces, Kovtun was wounded seven times and was shell-shocked three times. He was discharged from the military service due to his health condition with the rank of colonel.

Kovtun is currently a co-founder of the St. Petersburg Charity Fund of Assistance to the Development of Military Patriotic Upbringing of the Youth and Sports Martial Arts.

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