SAN FRANCISCO — A deserter from the Soviet army in Afghanistan said he longs for his mother and his homeland but is terrified of being killed or imprisoned by Soviet officials.
In an interview in Tuesday's San Francisco Chronicle, 21-year-old Alexander Voronov said, "Right now, I really don't want to go back to the Soviet Union, but at other times, the urge is still there."
Voronov told officials at the Soviet Consulate 10 days ago that he wanted to go home, but he changed his mind the next day.
"They can try to kill me anytime," he said. "They know I have tried to kill myself before, so they can make it look like a suicide."
He said he left his small Soviet town near Smolensk when he was 18 to fight in Afghanistan, thinking he was going to battle against "imperialist mercenaries."
"Instead, we were sent to kill the Afghanistan population," Voronov said. Troubles with his superiors in the army led to severe punishment, he said.
"I was put in detention and beaten," Voronov said. "Sometimes, water was poured over me, sometimes I was hardly fed, then I was beaten some more."
Voronov refuses to describe exactly how he escaped to the United States.
Despite his experiences with the Soviet army and his fear of further persecution, Voronov said he misses his mother greatly and is plagued by homesickness.
"When I'm drinking, if I put on Russian music, then my mother's voice comes back to me and I want to go home," he said.