The following photograph is by Mikhail Evstafiev, a Moscow State University Masters of Journalism graduate who served as a volunteer soldier in Afghanistan for two years in the late 1980s. He became a photographer, editor and painter after the war, and has worked for the Reuters News Agency since 1996 as a photographer and editor.
The image is from the book Afghanistan: Lifting the Veil by the Staff of the Reuters, and is captioned:
Soviet troops cross over a bridge from Afghanistan into the town of Termez, USSR, during the last day of the withdrawal of soviet forces from Afghanistan, February 15, 1989. The armoured personnel carrier flies the forces’ colours. The withdrawiang soldiers were given a warm welcome by family members and military and local officials.
During the Soviet-Aghan war Termez was a major military base; it is now part of Uzbekistan. We were unsuccessful in finding any other images of the bridge online (including searching under the alternative spelling Termiz and the cyrillic spelling) – and then realised that Termez is about ten minutes from the border town of Mangusar, where the bridge is located. This corresponds to the point where the tanks are leaving Afghanistan on many map rugs, such as in this example from the Rugs of War catalogue. It’s known as the “Friendship Bridge” – surely a hangover from Soviet naming practices?
The bridge was closed for several years by the Uzbeks, but was re-opened in 2001. Access is restricted, but it is an important route for humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.
More images would be useful in determining whether it could be the bridge we have been wondering about in earlier posts. The flat structure in the first rug below has some similarities, but the images we’ve found show neither the distinctive arch nor pylons/towers, or the complex cityscape depicted in the second and third rugs: