Updated at 18:07,08-09-2017

Half of all Belarusian diplomats in Vilnius are spies, Lithuanian security services claim

By Tanya Korovenkova, BelaPAN

Half of all diplomatic staff at the Belarusian embassy in Vilnius are spies, Lithuania's security services claimed in a report released earlier this week.

The report, drawn up by the State Security Department and the defense ministry's Second Investigation Department, said that the main task of Belarus' secret services was to maintain the stability of Alyaksandr Lukashenka's government and promote Belarus' economic and political interests in the European Union, including in Lithuania.

During last year's presidential election in Belarus, Belarusian secret services gathered information about Belarusian opposition groups based in Lithuania and tried to infiltrate them, as well as recruited ethnic Belarusians resident in Lithuania in an effort to prevent Belarus' divided opposition camp from forging a united front, according to the report.

Belarus' Committee for State Security (KGB), the Main Intelligence Directorate at the Belarusian Armed Forces' General Staff and intelligence units of Belarus' State Border Committee act against the interests of Lithuania, said the report.

Asked to comment on the report on Thursday, Dzmitry Mironchyk, spokesman for the Belarusian foreign ministry, ridiculed the allegations as a "spy novel."

There is an official KGB representative at the Belarusian embassy in Vilnius, he said. "The embassy's staff also include the defense attache and an aide to the defense attache who officially represent the Armed Forces of Belarus in Lithuania," said Mr. Mironchyk. "Whether there are similar officers at the Lithuanian embassy in Minsk is a rhetorical question that should rather be put to the Lithuanian side. The only difference is that unlike our Lithuanian colleagues we are not fond of spy fiction."