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Russian deserter to lay low in Georgia - radio interview


MOSCOW, January 28 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian Army deserter announced he plans to stay in Georgia for the time being and said that he has been promised an apartment and help in finding a job, he said in a radio interview on Wednesday.

Georgia's Interior Ministry released a video of Jr. Sgt. Alexander Glukhov on Tuesday in which he described why he had deserted and fled to Georgia. The Russian military claimed he had been captured in South Ossetia and are demanding his return.

In a radio interview with Russia's Ekho Moskvy, Glukhov said, "I left on my own, no one made me leave...I have decided to live here [in Georgia] and I haven't thought about citizenship yet."

The sergeant said he does not believe he is a traitor and his actions are not politically motivated because if his army division had been deployed near any other foreign border, he would have done the same thing.

"I have not carried out an act of treason," he said in the interview.

Russia's Defense Ministry has called the Georgian media reports "provocative."

"I don't know why [the Defense Ministry] thinks like that. Perhaps they are thinking about something else," he said.

The young sergeant said that he was afraid to return to Russia, believing that he would be punished. He promised to return to Russia "only when everything cools down and when they behave more humanely to him."

The Swiss Embassy in Tbilisi said it would redirect the issue of the Russian soldier to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to review.

Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze said earlier that he had contacted the Swiss ambassador in Georgia, who represents Russia in the country after Tbilisi and Moscow cut diplomatic ties following a brief conflict in August last year. Vashadze said that Georgia had already contacted the sergeant's parents and invited them to Tbilisi to visit their son.

Glukhov's family, however, has said that they have been given no information on Alexander's health or emotional state and have not received an invitation from the Georgian government to visit Tbilisi.

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