Afghan president fled with 4 cars, chopper full of cash: Russia

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

As Taliban took control of Afghanistan, Russia’s embassy in Kabul on Monday said the country’s President Ashraf Ghani took four cars and a helicopter full of cash with him and left the country.

Ghani had to leave some money behind as it would not all fit in, Russia state-owned news agency RIA reported.

Ghani, whose current whereabouts are unknown, said he left Afghanistan on Sunday as the Taliban entered Kabul.

Russia has said it will retain a diplomatic presence in Kabul and hopes to develop ties with the Taliban even as it says it is no rush to recognise them as the country’s rulers and will closely observe their behavior, the news agency said.

“As for the collapse of the (outgoing) regime, it is most eloquently characterised by the way Ghani fled Afghanistan,” Nikita Ishchenko, a spokesman for the Russian embassy in Kabul, was quoted as saying by RIA.

“Four cars were full of money, they tried to stuff another part of the money into a helicopter, but not all of it fit. And some of the money was left lying on the tarmac,” he was quoted as saying.

Ischenko, the Russian embassy spokesman, confirmed his comments to news agency Reuters. He cited “witnesses” as the source of his information. The news agency could not independently confirm the veracity of his account immediately.

President Vladimir Putin’s special representative on Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov said earlier it was unclear how much money the fleeing government would leave behind.

“I hope the government that has fled did not take all the money from the state budget. It will be the bedrock of the budget if something is left,” Kabulov told Moscow’s Ekho Moskvy radio station.

Earlier in the day, Taliban said “war in Afghanistan is over” as it took control of the presidential palace in Afghanistan’s capital city Kabul.

On Sunday, the country’s President Ashraf Ghani fled the country as Taliban entered the capital hundreds of Afghans desperately left flooded Kabul airport.

“Today is a great day for the Afghan people and the mujahideen. They have witnessed the fruits of their efforts and their sacrifices for 20 years,” Mohammad Naeem, the spokesman for the Taliban’s political office, told Al Jazeera TV. “Thanks to God, the war is over in the country.”

The report said that it took the Taliban just over a week to seize control of the country after a lightning sweep, trained for years and equipped by the United States and others at a cost of billions of dollars, melted away.


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