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Source in Russian deserter probe denies captivity claims


MOSCOW/ TSKHINVALI, January 29 (RIA Novosti) - A source in a commission investigating the case of a Russian soldier who apparently fled to Georgia during the recent war over South Ossetia has rejected claims that he was seized by Georgian forces.

The Georgians 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 was captured in South Ossetia during August's five-day war, and demanded his return.

"An internal investigation proved that Glukhov abandoned his unit without leave, and it is still to be established why," the commission source told RIA Novosti on Thursday.

The source said both personal and health reasons might have been behind the soldier's move. "It is not ruled out that he left his unit for service-related reasons."

In an interview with journalists in Tbilisi, Glukhov said he had deserted from his division, deployed in Akhalgori, near the South Ossetian border with Georgia, and wanted to remain in Georgia.

In a radio interview with Russia's Ekho Moskvy on Wednesday, the sergeant said he did not believe he was a traitor and his actions were not politically motivated because if his army division had been deployed near any other foreign border, he would have done the same thing.

The Georgian Interior Ministry has said it is looking into the possibility of granting Glukhov citizenship.

The Swiss Embassy in Georgia, which also represents Russia in the country after Tbilisi and Moscow cut diplomatic ties last August, said it would redirect the issue for review to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

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