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Belarus Says Ring Spying For Poland Uncovered

(RFE/RL) July 16, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Belarus's secret services say they have arrested a spy ring working for Poland.

Four Belarusians and one Russian citizen have been detained on charges of selling classified information about the air-defense systems of Belarus and Russia.

Minsk says that the spies were collecting information on Belarus and Russia's unified air-defense system.

Speaking on July 15 in Minsk, the deputy head of the Belarusian State Security Committee (KGB), Viktar Vyahera, said that the Belarusian secret services had broken up the spy ring.

"The crime of spying has been fully proven and I want to particularly underscore that the timely counterintelligence action has foiled an attempt to damage the defense capabilities of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation," he said.

Vyahera said that no damage had been inflicted on the defense capacity of Belarus or Russia. He also said that all five men are former soldiers.

Poland Accused

One of the suspected spies, Vladimir Ruskin, a former Belarusian military officer, said that he had been recruited in Poland by Polish intelligence agencies.

According to Russian news agencies, the Russian suspect surrendered to Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB).

A criminal investigation into treason and espionage has been opened. In Belarus, treason carries a sentence of up to 15 years.

Poland has repeatedly criticized the authoritarian policies of Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

The Polish government funds the Belarusian-language Radio Racyja, which broadcasts on FM in Belarus.

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