Soviet authorities rebuked human rights activist Andrei D. Sakharov today, saying his statement about airborne Soviet soldiers firing on their comrades in Afghanistan was “misinformed.”
Sakharov, in an interview published today in the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, confirmed that he had made the statement during a news conference last month in Canada.
He said eyewitness accounts had been the basis for his allegations that Soviet soldiers in helicopters had fired on their own ground troops to prevent their being taken prisoner by Afghan rebels. “I based this on Western press and radio dispatches,” he told the daily. “Unfortunately, I cannot give you detailed references of the people who could confirm this. . . .”
But the former chief of staff of the Soviet armed forces denied the allegations in the same newspaper. Sergei Akhromeyev, now an adviser to Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev, said: “Our military helicopters never killed groups of Soviet servicemen surrounded by the enemy. If academician Sakharov is saying the opposite, then it is completely untrue.”