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  Thursday, December 12, 2019
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A Russian soldier who abandoned his military unit in South Ossetia
A Russian soldier who abandoned his military unit in South Ossetia and crossed the border into Georgia in January is facing desertion charges, the chief military prosecutor said on Tuesday.

Sergei Fridinsky also said Russia would send Georgia an extradition request for Jr. Sgt. Alexander Glukhov in the near future.

"We will ask [them] to return him to us," Fridinsky said.

Georgia said on Tuesday Glukhov had requested political asylum.

Georgian Deputy Interior Minister Shota Utiashvili also said Tbilisi would not hand Glukhov over to Russia until consideration of his asylum request had been completed.

The Russian Defense Ministry earlier said Glukhov had been seized by Georgian special services and forcibly taken to Tbilisi, where he was subjected to moral or physical pressure.

Glukhov denied being put under any pressure, saying he had fled his unit because of the "horrible" conditions there.

Under Russian law, desertion is punishable by up to seven years in prison, but a first-time offender who has deserted without his weapon, on his own and if there is a serious reason for his action may be exempt from punishment.

Jr. Sgt. Glukhov left his unit in South Ossetia in late January and surrendered to Georgian police, requesting asylum. He said his actions should not be seen as politically motivated because he would have done the same had his army division been deployed near any other foreign border.


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