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11 Feb, 2009 19:02

Georgia keeps my son by force – Russian soldier’s mom

The mother whose son, a Russian soldier, reportedly deserted to live in Georgia says he is being kept there against his will. She' has been in South Ossetia, where he served, for 3 days but has yet to meet her son.

Aleksandr Glukhov’s mother claims Georgia has repeatedly denied her request for a meeting, only allowing phone calls. Galina Glukhova also believes someone is controlling what her son says.

“I have talked with him on several occasions and I felt, all the time, that someone was near him. It was not my son who was talking to me. He is a person under psychological pressure. I do want the Georgian authorities to allow my son to travel back home to his family”, Glukhova told Interfax on Wednesday.

Georgia says Sergeant Glukhov fled his army unit due to unbearable living conditions.

“I ask the Georgian president to let me stay in Tbilisi,” Russian serviceman Aleksandr Glukhov said on local TV in January.

Glukhov claims he has not ‘betrayed his country.’ He also said there are no political reasons behind his actions.

“I was given tasks which I was doing, but the commander did not like the way I did them. I think that I did everything right,” Glukhov said last month, adding that no violence was used against him.

However, Georgia's Interior Ministry says the serviceman turned himself over to police while asking for asylum.

Russia’s Defence Ministry argues he was captured by Georgians last month from one of Russia’s military bases in South Ossetia and forced to say he had deserted. According to the Defence Ministry, Sergeant Glukhov served in South Ossetia and was to be discharged from military service this spring, so he had no apparent reason to abandon his unit.