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30 Jun, 2023 17:28

Russia demands answers from Poland on sports star’s arrest

Maksim Sergeyev was detained for “espionage” earlier this month, Polish prosecutors have revealed
Russia demands answers from Poland on sports star’s arrest

Moscow wants Warsaw to “immediately provide a comprehensive explanation” for the arrest of a hockey player on allegations of espionage, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday.

“We have sent a strong protest to Warsaw,” Zakharova said, adding that the Russian embassy in Poland will find out all the circumstances of the incident, and render “all necessary assistance” to the detained citizen. 

Poland’s prosecutor-general, Zbigniew Ziobro, announced on Friday that the athlete was arrested earlier this month, adding that this makes 14 Russian nationals detained for espionage so far. While Ziobro did not name the hockey player in keeping with Polish law, the media have identified him as 20-year-old Maksim Sergeyev, a defender for UKS Zaglebie Sosnowiec since October 2021.

According to the Polish authorities, Sergeyev was “scouting” critical infrastructure facilities in several regions of the country. He was detained on June 11 and faces up to ten years behind bars if convicted.

The Kremlin declined to comment on the situation until the embassy in Poland can obtain more information. President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, noted that it was “very, very difficult to work in Warsaw due to the completely frenzied Russophobic position of the Polish authorities.”

Dmitry Svishchev, the head of the State Duma’s sports committee, called the Polish move flagrantly hateful and the charges against Sergeyev a “total fabrication.”

“As of late, everything connected with Russia causes them panicked fear,” Svishchev added. “Russophobia has become the way of things in Poland.”

It was unclear how the embassy in Warsaw intended to intervene on behalf of Sergeyev. Poland had confiscated all funds from its bank account in April and seized a Russian-language school citing the embassy’s inability to pay the lease. Moscow has threatened an “asymmetric response,” while Ambassador Sergey Andreyev brought up the possibility of severing diplomatic relations altogether.