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Lukashenka says ready for spy swap deal with Ukraine

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Belarus President Aliaksandr Lukashenka / president.gov.by

Belarus is ready to swap on a reciprocal basis Ukrainian citizen Pavlo Sharoiko convicted in Belarus for spying for Belarusian citizen Yury Palityka charged in Ukraine, President Lukashenka said Thursday during a news briefing for Ukrainian media in Minsk, the Ukrainian TV channel 112 Ukraine reports.

Mr. Lukashenka said that he had even reached an agreement with the previous President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko on the swap but Kyiv did not deliver on its part of the deal.

When asked by Ukrainian journalists if the spy swap could be complete before his meeting with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky in Zhytomyr in early October, the Belarusian head of state said: "[On our side], it could happen even tomorrow. But you won't make it. You still want to put Palityka on trial."

Ukrainian journalist Pavlo Sharoiko was detained in Minsk on 25 October 2017. The Belarusian secret service KGB charged him with espionage and running a spy ring. Sharoiko was sentenced to 8 years in jail. 

Belarus national Yury Palityka was detained by Ukraine's counterintelligence service SBU on 16 June 2017. Agents found on his phone the details of an offensive operation that Ukrainian Armed Forces had been carrying out in eastern Ukraine. The 33-year-old Belarusian denies all the charges of spying. According to media reports in Ukraine, Palityka reportedly claims that he was on his way to volunteer for the Ukraine forces in eastern Ukraine. The proceedings on his case began only in April 2019.

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