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Georgia 'seizes Russian soldier'

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Russia has accused Georgia of capturing a Russian soldier in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia, Russian news agencies report.

A Russian defence ministry spokesman said soldier Alexander Glukhov had been seized in the Akhalgori region.

Georgia's interior ministry said the soldier had surrendered to its police, requesting Georgian citizenship.

The Akhalgori region was under Tbilisi's control until last August's war between Georgia and Russia.

During the brief war, Georgia's attempts to regain control of South Ossetia were repelled by Russian forces.

Tbilisi has urged Moscow to withdraw forces from Akhalgori after the conflict ended with an EU-brokered ceasefire.

'Provocation'

"A preliminary investigation has revealed that Alexander Glukhov was captured by Georgian forces in the Akhalgori region of South Ossetia and taken to Tbilisi," Russian defence ministry spokesman Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky told Russian news agencies.

Col Drobyshevsky said the defence ministry was demanding that Tbilisi hand back the soldier.

The spokesman also described comments by the Georgian defence ministry as "provocation".

Tbilisi said the 21-year-old deserted the Russian army on Monday night.

In a televised interview filmed by the Georgian army, Alexander Glukhov said he decided to seek asylum in Georgia because he was fed up with poor conditions in the Russian army.

He also said that he had to go without food in the Russian army during the cold winter.

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