MOSCOW, June 18 (RIA Novosti) - A Georgian military officer who crossed into Abkhazia in May has asked Russia for political asylum, the Federal Migration Service said Thursday.
According to Russia's military, Alik Bzhaniya was detained by Russian border guards in the former Georgian republic on May 23, and told them he had deliberately left Georgia to seek asylum in Russia.
Russian intelligence officials have said Bzhaniya, 35, is now in Russia, and that a recording of his questioning would be made public.
The migration service said in a statement: "There is no information yet on the Russian side's decision on the issue of granting political asylum to Georgian national Bzhaniya." However, the service said that on June 9 it had issued him with a certificate, that his application for refugee status was being considered.
On Thursday a man identifying himself as Bzhaniya made a live phone call to Ekho Moskvy radio. He said he was seeking asylum in Russia, and that he had not taken part in the August attack on South Ossetia, as he was in the reserves at the time.
He also said he wanted to give up his Georgian citizenship and live in Russia.
Georgia's Interior Ministry said Thursday that Lt. Bzhaniya had been dismissed from the border police coast guard service a few days after he asked for political asylum in Russia.
"Alik Bzhaniya served in the coast guards. He was dismissed from the border forces on an order dated June 12, 2009," the ministry said.