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Russian mother says deserter son pressured into talking to press


SARAPUL (Republic of Udmurtia), January 30 (RIA Novosti) - Galina Glukhov, the mother of a Russian deserter, who left his unit in South Ossetia and fled to Georgia, believes her son has been pressured into talking to the press, she told RIA Novosti on Friday.

"What he's saying doesn't resemble him," she said. "It doesn't sound like it's coming from him. Someone must be pushing him."

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that Jr. Sgt. Alexander Glukhov had been captured by Georgian special services in South Ossetia. The Georgian Interior Ministry said, however, that Glukhov had left his unit over the weekend, surrendered to Georgian police and requested political asylum. The Glukhov family is from the city of Sarapul in Udmurtia in central Russia.

Earlier Galina told RIA Novosti that she would like to go to Tbilisi and meet with her son in order to "talk with him and try to understand what happened." On Tuesday, Georgia's Interior Ministry reported that Glukhov had surrendered to the Georgian police. A report on the English-language Georgian Times news website said he had complained about the "unbearable conditions" in his unit.

However, Glukhov's mother said that her son "had never complained about his service until he turned up in Tbilisi." Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze said on Tuesday that Georgia had already contacted the soldier's parents and invited them to Tbilisi to visit their son.

Denis Logonov, a government spokesman, said that the republic of Udmurtia had received a request from Galina Glukhov to help organize a trip to Tbilisi and that the republic's administration was prepared to pay her travel expenses. He warned, however, that some elements of her visit were not within the republic's control. In a radio interview with Russia's Ekho Moskvy on Wednesday, the soldier said he did not believe he was a traitor. He said his actions could not be politically motivated because he would have done the same thing if his army division had been deployed near any other foreign border. Glukhov earlier requested that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili grant him political asylum and allow him to live in Tbilisi. The Georgian Interior Ministry said it was looking into the possibility of granting Glukhov Georgian citizenship. The Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that a meeting between Glukhov and Russian Foreign Ministry representatives would be organized by Georgia only once the issue had been discussed with Georgia's Interior Ministry. Glukhov was drafted in the fall of 2007, and was to be discharged this fall having served two years in the Army.

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