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10 Jul, 2023 14:06

Poland arrests Ukrainian in anti-Russia crackdown

The suspect is the 15th person to be detained in an investigation into an alleged spy ring
Poland arrests Ukrainian in anti-Russia crackdown

Polish security authorities have reported the arrest of a 15th alleged member of a Russian spy ring. The Ukrainian national, who was detained last month, was accused of receiving money from Moscow for the surveillance of critical infrastructure in the EU nation.

The arrest was reported on Monday by Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski but took place on June 21, according to statements.

The suspected Russian agent was apprehended by the Internal Security Agency (ABW) and the Lublin branch of the National Prosecutor’s Office. Kaminski claimed it was proof that the national security agencies were “effectively protecting Poland.”

The suspect has Ukrainian citizenship and arrived in Poland in 2019, the authorities said. He was allegedly interested in military facilities and seaports, among other targets. A Lublin court agreed to a three-month pre-trial detention, arguing that the man posed a flight risk.

Warsaw confirmed in late June that a Russian athlete had been arrested in the same espionage investigation. The man was identified by Polish media as 20-year-old ice hockey player Maksim Sergeyev. He had played for UKS Zaglebie Sosnowiec since October 2021.

As with the latest suspect, Sergeyev was accused of surveilling Polish infrastructure. Spying for a foreign party carries a punishment of up to ten years in prison under Polish law.

The Russian government said its embassy in Poland was doing its best to assist Sergeyev, following his reported prosecution. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov explained that it was “very, very difficult to work in Warsaw due to the completely frenzied Russophobic position of the Polish authorities.” Russian officials have described the case against the athlete as “totally fabricated.”

The Polish government is currently being probed by Brussels over a controversial law that allows people to be barred from public office if a parliament-appointed committee deems that they have acted under “Russian influence.”

Critics believe the scheme paves the way for a crackdown on the political opposition under the pretense of national security. President Andrzej Duda pledged earlier this month to make adjustments to the legislation.