May 23, 2018 / 3:20 PM / 3 months ago

Belarus sentences Ukrainian to eight years for spying: envoy

MINSK (Reuters) - A Belarussian court has sentenced a Ukrainian radio correspondent to more than eight years in prison for spying, Ukraine’s ambassador in Minsk Ihor Kizim told Reuters on Wednesday.

Last November, Belarus’s KGB state security service said it had uncovered a spy ring working for Ukraine’s defense ministry set up by Minsk-based Ukrainian journalist Pavlo Sharoyko.

Sharoyko, who has not been contactable by media or the Ukrainian embassy since his arrest last October, was recently convicted and sentenced by a closed court, Kizim said.

“The trial took place. He’s currently in a KGB detention center,” he said. “He has no complaints about the conditions.”

Sharoyko had reportedly pleaded guilty, but the embassy does not believe the reports, Kizim said.

Neither the KGB nor the courts could be reached for comment.

Belarus has been run on Soviet-style command lines by President Alexander Lukashenko since 1994 and has been criticized by the West for human rights abuses and its treatment of the political opposition.

The Sharoyko case has not had a noticeable effect on Ukraine-Belarus relations, which came under strain last year when Belarus hosted large-scale joint military exercises with Russia on Belarussian territory.

Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Matthias Williams and Mark Potter

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