Vladislav Tamarov (1965 – 2014)

Vladislav Tamarov with Russian general
Vladislav Tamarov and guest October 1985

A great man. I hope it’s all good. There’s a Facebook page looking for donations to repatriate the gentleman’s body to his mother in Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation, from the state of Nevada, United States of America. I hope it’s legitimate. Vladislav Tamarov passed away last “Boxing Day”.

I wouldn’t know anything about that.

Saint Petersburg, as everyone recalls, was called “Leningrad” for a while. It’s where Vladislav Tamarov grew up.

Vladislav Tamarov wrote a great book. It’s not all that common, you know, to stumble across what you think is a “great” book. A book that after two readings 10 years apart is still a profound experience.  See “Chakari Minaret” preceding this post. Go ahead.

It didn’t occur to me that Vladislav Tamarov could be dead. The news saddened me. I found this out doing research for an only vaguely related project about Afghanistan. Like a lot of veterans of any war he encountered difficulties after the shooting stopped.

That rifle he’s got slung over his shoulder is an AK 74, a “modernized” version of the AK 47. There’s been at least a couple further modernizations since. At least that’s what I’ve read.

He emigrated to the United States and published the book these images are drawn from. Mercury Press, San Francisco 1992. He had no chance in the Russia of his youth publishing any portion of his book or his photographs. He spent five years putting the book together. The text is maybe 25,000 words.  You can read it in an afternoon. It’s great.

Pagman, Afghanistan September 1985
Pagman, Afghanistan September 1985

Vladislav Tamarov was a member of the 3rd regiment of the 103rd Airborne Division of the military of the USSR.  His job morphed into becoming a minesweeper as there was no need for skytroopers in this particular Russian war. He spent most of his “tour” in the rugged, mountainous Panjsher or “Panjshir” region in northeastern Afghanistan.

As you can see, these guys, unlike Nato soldiers of more recent Afghanistan slaughter and mayhem, wear no body armour or even helmets.  A few in this outfit were issued pointy sticks to probe for mines the country was littered with. And still is. They humped it rough and were expendable.  The official total for the ten years the Russians were in Afghanistan is 15,000 killed.  Vladislav Tamarov says the real total was up to three times as many.


One thing that never changes about old Afghanistan, from everything I’ve seen, is the dust.

Afghanistan: Soviet Vietnam.  Mercury Press, San Francisco, 1992.  1-56279-021-8

Afghanistan:  A Russian Soldier’s Story.  Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, 2001. 978-1-58008-416-1



Author: Steven Brown


3 thoughts on “Vladislav Tamarov (1965 – 2014)”

  1. Another important historical figure that I may not have otherwise known about if he hadn’t of been nudged from the shadows into the light care of the thoughtful meanderings of Samoyeddogs.
    Thanks, eh.


  2. Just ordered his book “The Bear went over the mountain” and cannot wait to get my hands on it. He sounds like a true warrior that had to deal with PTSD like many of our warriors and abroad. Respectable that he came to visit Vietnam War Vets and the wall in the U.S. He cared about his fellow warrior.


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