It was not a good day for loyalty within the Soviet sphere of influence. Not only did several members of the Afghan national soccer team defect in West Germany (see related story, Page 4), but a Hungarian soldier driving a stolen Soviet bus escaped through a checkpoint at Nickelsdorf, Austria, on the Austro-Hungarian border. He fled a hail of Soviet bullets. Austrian police said the soldier asked for political asylum.
Moreover, a Western expert on Afghan affairs reported Wednesday that some Soviet soldiers with Muslim backgrounds have defected to Islamic rebel forces in Afghanistan. He said he met three such defectors at a rebel camp in a northeastern Afghan province last month, and they told him, "We got to Afghanistan and asked: Where is the enemy? We are fighting our Muslim brothers."
The Westerner said the defections were evidence of a growing trend among soldiers from the Muslim Soviet republics of Tadzhikistan, Turkestan, Uzbekistan , and Azerbaijan of identifying with their Islamic neighbors in the Middle East and Central Asia.