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Russian region to fund deserter's mother trip to son in Georgia

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NIZHNY NOVGOROD, January 30 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian republic of Udmurtia may pay for the mother of a Russian deserter to visit her son, who left his unit in South Ossetia and fled to Georgia, a government spokesman said on Friday.

Denis Logonov said that the republic had received a request from Galina Glukhov for help organizing 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 in the republic's control.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that Army Jr. Sgt. Alexander Glukhov had been captured by Georgian special services in South Ossetia. The Georgian Interior Ministry said 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.

"Galina did turn to us and we are prepared to help her, but only after a number of organizational issues have been decided as they are not in the power of the regional government," Logonov said.

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.

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.

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 citizenship.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that Georgia would organize a meeting between Glukhov and Russian Foreign Ministry representatives only after 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 his two years in the Army.

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