12 Feb 2018 20:12

Belarusian court begins classified hearing of Ukrainian journalist Sharoiko's espionage case

KYIV. Feb 12 (Interfax) - The Belarusian Supreme Court has begun hearing the case of Ukrainian journalist Pavlo Sharoiko in camera, the court's spokesperson Yuliya Lyaskova said.

"We're not commenting when the proceedings have begun and who is the judge. The trial is being held in camera," Lyaskova told Radio Liberty.

As reported, UA: Ukrainian Radio correspondent Sharoiko was detained in Minsk on October 25, 2017. "Ukrainian journalist Pavlo Sharoiko was detained in Minsk on October 25. On the same day, a search was conducted in the flat, where Pavlo lives with his family, wife Olena and a daughter. The Belarusian KGB conducted his detention (arrest). Pavlo has only a state defender, in other words, appointed by Belarusian authorities. We don't know anything about the involvement of another lawyer [provided] by the Ukrainian Embassy in Belarus. Pavlo communicates with his family via letters. His wife received the first one almost a week after," Serhiy Tomilenko, the head of the Ukrainian National Union of Journalists, said on his Facebook account.

Sharoiko's wife Olena told Ukrainian Radio that the lawyer appointed by Minsk "presented a non-disclosure notice," therefore, she has not been informed about anything. A criminal case on espionage charges was opened against Sharoiko.

On November 18, Ukrainian Ambassador to Belarus Ihor Kyzym confirmed that Sharoiko had been charged with espionage, he was being under investigation in a Belarusian State Security Committee (KGB) detention facility and that the Ukrainian consul was allowed to visit the detained journalist after the relevant request was sent to the Belarusian side, the ambassador said.

Belarusian KGB spokesman Dmitry Pobyarzhin said that Sharoiko had admitted that he is a career officer of Ukrainian intelligence services working undercover. "He disclosed his rank, a colonel," Pobyarzhin said.

"The detainee confirmed that employee of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry's main intelligence department Ihor Skvortsov, operating undercover as a counselor at the Ukrainian Embassy in Belarus, had been his handler, due to which the latter was declared persona non grata," he said.