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Belarus pardons Ukrainian journalist Sharoiko after spy swap deal

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Pavlo Sharoiko / UNIAN​

Ukrainian journalist Pavlo Sharoiko has been pardoned and released in Belarus, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said on 4 October, hromadske.ua reports.

Zelensky recently met with Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka in Zhytomyr. The release of Sharoiko who had been sentenced to eight years in prison in Belarus for espionage obviously was timed to coincide with the summit. The day before the meeting, the release of the Ukrainian was announced by Ukraine's Minister of Foreign Affairs Vadim Pristaiko.

Pavlo Sharoiko was detained in Minsk in the fall of 2017. He was accused of spying and creating a spy ring involving Belarus citizens. He had spent two years behind bars before the release.

Prior to the release of Sharoiko, Ukraine released Belarusian "spy" Yury Palityka. The court ruled to release the man accused of collecting classified information "under personal obligations." It is still unknown whether he has returned to his homeland after more than two years in detention in Ukraine.

In September, at a meeting with Ukrainian journalists, Alyaksandr Lukashenka said he was ready to exchange Sharoiko and Palityka "on a mutual basis" in the near future.