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Closed-Door Spy Trial Begins in Belarus

KGB accuses Pavlo Sharoyko of spying for Ukrainian military intelligence.

13 February 2018

The Supreme Court of Belarus has begun trying a Ukrainian journalist accused of espionage.


The trial of Pavlo Sharoyko is being held behind closed doors, a court spokeswoman told RFE/RL on 12 February.


Sharoyko, a Ukrainian radio reporter, was detained by Belarusian authorities in November. At the time, some of his colleagues said he was investigating the case of 19-year-old Ukrainian citizen Pavlo Hryb, who was arrested in Belarus last summer and is now in Russia facing terrorism charges.


Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry two weeks ago called for the release of Hryb, who it said was being held illegally in Russia.


Headquarters of the KGB in Minsk. Photo: Bestalex/Wikimedia Commons


Hryb’s father, Ihor Hryb, said his son travelled to Gomel, Belarus in August to meet a girl he knew only from social media, planning to return to Ukraine the same day. When he failed to return home the father went to Gomel, where he said he learned that Pavlo was on a Russian list of persons wanted in connection with a terrorist attack, according to an Interfax-Ukraine report.


The Belarusian KGB accuses Sharoyko of being an undercover intelligence officer working for the Ukrainian military and running a string of paid agents in Belarus.


The KGB claims Sharoyko admitted to being a career officer with Ukrainian military intelligence, Interfax-Ukraine reports.




  • Reporters Without Borders has criticized Belarus over the convictions of three bloggers found guilty of incitement to racial, ethnic, religious or other social hatred.


  • On 2 February, Dzmitry Alimkin, Yury Paulavets, and Syarhey Shyptsenka were sentenced to five years’ imprisonment with three years of the sentences suspended. Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk, said in a statement, “Under international standards on freedom of expression, there is no justification for such disproportionate sentences. We call for their convictions to be overturned on appeal.”


  • The bloggers were accused of inciting hatred towards the Belarusian nation and language in pro-Russian posts for Russian media, Belarus Digest writes.


  • They are now free, after spending 14 months in pre-trial detention, but could be forced to serve the entire five-year sentence if they fail to report regularly to police or if they leave Minsk without permission, RSF says.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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