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Women in Arms: from the Russian Empire to Post-Soviet States - Conversations (2)

Interview with Olga Capatina, a Moldavian Afganka, Paris, 25th September 2015 (in Russian)

Cloé Drieu and Elisabeth Sieca-Kozlowski

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This interview was conducted in the framework of the project "War Veteran Testimonies - Soviet & Post-Soviet Conflicts" which aims at making available to researchers and to the public a corpus of testimonies of war veterans (website The project is funded by the Laboratory of Excellence Tepsis (EHESS) under the reference ANR-11-LABX-0067.

Olga Capatina in Afghanistan (1987)

Olga Capatina in Afghanistan (1987)

Published July 31, 1987 (© CC - Olga Capatina)
Soviet War in Afghanistan, Afganka​details/​OlgaC.Afghanistan

1Olga Capatina was born in Lencauti, Ocnita in Moldavia in May 1955. She graduated in philology, psychology and was trained as a nurse. After a career in journalism and due to a divorce that left her with two young children, she joined a military Commissariat where she was guaranteed a decent salary. In July 1987, she was sent to Afghanistan as a physiotherapist. A year later in July 1988, she joined the GRU (Main Intelligence Directorate) and took part in several GRU operations until the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan in February 1989.


From Moldavia to Afghanistan

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Credits : Paul Antropius



530 May 1955: Birth in Lencauti, Ocnita (Moldavia)
1972-1979: Studies philology, psychology and nursing school
23 March 1976: Birth of her first child
7 July 1979: Birth of her second child
1979-1983: Works in a kindergarden in the North of Moldavia
1983-1987: Works as journalist in the North of Moldavia
January 1987: Works in a Military Commissariat, Moldavia
July 1987: Departure to Kabul. Transfer to Shindand: 8 months training in physiotherapy in the Central hospital.
July 1988: Kabul - Chief of the physiotherapy practice in the Clinic for Senior Officers in Kabul
October 1988 - February 1989: Joins the GRU and performs special missions
February 1989: Withdrawal from Afghanistan through Kushka
March 1989: Joins the 14th Army in Tiraspol (Transnistria - Moldavia)
End of 1989-1990: Sent to Kamtchatka (Russia)
November 1991: Joins the Moldavian Ministry of Security (MS)
Spring 1995: Back to Chisinau, leaves the secret services
March 1995 - June 1996: Joins the Ministry of Justice (of which 6 months in hospital due to an operation after an accident in a previous field operation for the MS)
2004: Arrival in France and stay
2013: Publication of Afghanistan, mon rayon de soleil sauvage [Afghanistan, My Wild Ray of Sunshine], book & e-book, 7ecrit Editions. 


Interview with Olga Capatina, Physiotherapist and GRU Operative in Afghanistan 1987-1989 (Part I)
Credits : Cloé Drieu & Elisabeth Sieca-Kozlowski

72'20 Why I Joined the Army

88'49 What Did You know about Afghanistan Prior to Your Departure?

910'40 Do You Remember the Day You Left to Afghanistan?

1012'19 Kabul Central Military Hospital

1114'33 What Was Your First Assignment After Kabul?

1215'28 Being a Woman in the Soviet Army in Afghanistan

1322'59 Daily Routine in the Military Hospital

1424'32 Dedovshchina (Hazing) and Smuggling

1526'34 Military Operations

1630'23 Joining the GRU (Main Intelligence Directorate)

1732'30 National Solidarities & Relations with the Locals


Interview with Olga Capatina - Physiotherapist and GRU Operative in Afghanistan, 1987-1989 (Part II)
Credits : Cloé Drieu & Elisabeth Sieca-Kozlowski

190'22 The Policy of Laisser Faire

201'54 Where There any Signs of Religious Beliefs or Superstitions? What About Yourself?

215'54 Do You Remember the Withdrawal of the Soviet Army from Afghanistan?

2213'47 Falling in Love During the Soviet Afghan War and Post-Soviet Outcome

2320'27 Working in the Russian 14th Army in the Service of the Moldavian State

2424'11 After Five Years of Duty She Leaves the Service and Returns to Civilian life

2527'52 Entry Into Associative Life and Politics

2632'33 Overcoming the Trauma of the War

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List of illustrations

Title Olga Capatina in Afghanistan (1987)
Caption Published July 31, 1987 (© CC - Olga Capatina)Soviet War in Afghanistan, Afganka​details/​OlgaC.Afghanistan
File image/jpeg, 189k
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Electronic reference

Cloé Drieu and Elisabeth Sieca-Kozlowski, Interview with Olga Capatina, a Moldavian Afganka, Paris, 25th September 2015 (in Russian)The Journal of Power Institutions in Post-Soviet Societies [Online], Issue 17 | 2016, Online since 03 April 2016, connection on 16 April 2024. URL:; DOI:

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About the authors

Cloé Drieu


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Elisabeth Sieca-Kozlowski & CERCEC / EHESS

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The text only may be used under licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. All other elements (illustrations, imported files) are “All rights reserved”, unless otherwise stated.

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