MINSK (Reuters) - Belarus’s KGB state security service said on Monday it had uncovered a spy ring working for the Ukrainian defence ministry that had been set up by a detained Ukrainian radio correspondent.
Minsk-based journalist Pavlo Sharoyko was arrested in October and charged with being an undercover intelligence officer, KGB spokesman Dmitry Pobyarzhin said in a briefing.
“In Belarus, Sharoyko built a network of agents made up of Belarussian citizens, who carried out his assignments for monetary compensation,” Pobyarzhin said.
An adviser to the Ukrainian embassy in Minsk, Ihor Skvortsov, has been declared persona non grata as he is believed to be Sharoyko’s handler, Pobyarzhin said.
The Ukrainian foreign and defence ministries declined immediate comment. Sharoyko and Skvortsov could not be reached for comment.
The case could put further pressure on relations between Minsk and Kiev that were tested earlier this year when Belarus hosted large-scale joint military exercises with Russia on Belarussian territory.
September’s Zapad-2017 (“West-2017”) war games unnerved neighbouring Ukraine and NATO member states on Europe’s eastern flank, which feared the exercises could be a rehearsal or cover for a real offensive.
Additional reporting by Natalia Zinets in Kiev; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Richard Balmforth