Belarus authorities release Ukrainian journo convicted of espionage

Pavlo Sharoiko was pardoned and released by the Belarusian authorities, Ukraine’s President Volodymir Zelensky said on Friday in Zhytomyr. The Ukrainian city is hosting the 2nd Forum of Regions of Belarus and Ukraine on October 3-4.

“Another Ukrainian prisoner, Journalist Pavlo Sharoiko, who was sentenced to 8-year imprisonment in Belarus, has been pardoned; he is already at home in Ukraine,” Zelensky wrote on Twitter.

As reported earlier, Belarusian citizen Yury Palityka, whom Ukraine accused of collecting classified information, was discharged from custody on October 3, a day before the meeting of presidents Lukashenka and Zelensky.

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UA: Ukrainian Radio employee Pavlo Sharoiko was arrested in Minsk in October, 2017. According to the KGB spokesman Dzmitry Pabyarzhyn, Sharoiko, an officer of Ukraine’s military intelligence, worked undercover as a radio correspondent and created a spy network of the citizens of Belarus. Sharoiko’s work was coordinated by Igor Skvortsov, who ‘acted under the guise of the Ukrainian embassy counselor in Belarus’, Pabyarzhyn said. Skvortsov was declared persona non grata and expelled from Belarus. In November 2017, Sharoiko was accused of espionage.

In 2018, Pavlo Sharoiko was sentenced to eight years in prison. The trial of the Ukrainian citizen which began in February was held behind closed doors. In January 2019, Sharoiko was transferred from the KGB detention centre to Babruysk penal colony Nr 2.

Ukrainian government agencies have repeatedly refuted the claim by the KGB of the alleged involvement of Pavlo Sharoiko in espionage and his being an intelligence officer.

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