Valery Vakulchyk, Head of the State Security Committe (KGB) does not rule out swapping ‘Ukrainian spy’ Pavel Sharoiko for ‘Belarusian spy’ Yury Palityka.
Last week, Ambassador of Ukraine to Belarus Igor Kizim said on the sidelines of the Minsk Dialogue forum that Sharoiko was sentenced to eight years in prison for ‘espionage’. The trial was held in camera. At the moment, Sharoiko is being held in the so-called Amerikanka, the KGB prison in Minsk.
In an interview with Russian news agency TASS, Vakulchyk confirmed information: “Yes, for 8 years. This trial took place in February. His guilt was proved, there is overwhelming evidence.”
At the same time, Vakulchyk urged the public not to link Sharoiko’s arrest to the situation that Belarusian citizen Yury Palityka is facing in Ukraine. However, he leaves open the possibility of exchanging the prisoners between Kyiv and Minsk.
“Once we swapped a professional intelligence officer, whom we arrested a few years ago, for our citizens, who detained in another country,” Vakulchyk stressed.
UA: Ukrainian Radio employee Pavlo Sharoiko was arrested in Minsk in late October.
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 Ihor 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 late November, Sharoiko was accused of espionage.
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.
In February, a Chernihiv court in Ukraine started a preliminary hearing of the case of Yury Palityka, but there has been no progress since then. The sittings were repeatedly postponed due to lack of interpreters or defense lawyers. In April, his remand was extended until mid-June.
Ukraine charged Yury Palityka, a 32-year-old citizen of Belarus, with espionage (Article 114-1 of the Criminal Code). The Belarusian is facing up to 15 years in prison. Now Palityka is being kept in Chernihiv prison.
At the beginning of 2017, Yury sent a letter to the Belarusian embassy. According to the man, he was arrested when he was returning to Belarus. Officers of Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) stopped him at the border crossing point Novi Yarylovychi on June 16, 2017. The citizen of Belarus, whom Ukraine suspected of spying, claims that he incriminated himself under torture. Yury states that he has never worked in the Belarusian KGB or collected secret information for Russia.