Albania arrests two Russians, one Ukrainian trying to enter military plant

TIRANA, Aug 20 (Reuters) - The Albanian Defense Ministry said on Saturday that two of its soldiers were injured while trying to stop two Russians and one Ukrainian who tried to enter a military plant in central Albania.

“Three citizens with Russian and Ukrainian passports have tried to enter the factory,” the ministry said.

“The officers who were guarding the plant reacted immediately, but during their efforts to stop the three foreign nationals, two of our soldiers were injured,” the ministry said, adding that the soldiers were in stable condition.

The ministry said the three foreign nationals were detained. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said the three individuals are “suspected of espionage.”

The defense ministry said one of the arrested, identified only as a Russian national M.Z., 24 years old, entered the Gramsh plant’s territory and was trying to take photos.

The ministry said the man used a kind of spray against soldiers while trying to escape after being stopped by guards.

Two others, a Russian woman identified as S.T., 33, and an Ukrainian man F.A., 25, were also arrested in the vicinity.

Many Russian and Ukrainian tourists visit Albania during summer holidays. The Gramsh military base is more than 70 kilometers away from the beaches.

During its period under Communist rule, Gramsh was used to produce the Russian type of the AK-49 rifle.

According to the ministry’s website, the plant now provides manufacturing services for the defense industry. It did not give more details.

Albania has been a member of NATO since 2009.

Reporting by Florion Goga, writing by Fatos Bytyci, editing by Chris Reese

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