Updated at 19:56,22-01-2021

Ukrainian authorities confirm arrest of two Belarusians suspected of espionage


Local authorities in Ukraine's Dnipropetrovsk province have confirmed that two Belarusians were arrested earlier this week on suspicion of spying for Russia.

One of them is Stsyapan Chyrych, a journalist working for Russia's NTV television channel, Ukraine's Unian news agency reported with reference to Hennadiy Korban, deputy head of the provincial government.

The channel reported on Thursday that Mr. Chyrych had gone missing after heading to the province to film a segment for an NTV news show about US Protestant pastor and television evangelist Bob Larson's visit.

According to Mr. Korban, the Belarusians were arrested in the vicinity of the city of Krasnoarmiysk. They had press passes, cameras and memory cards containing pictures of local government buildings and police stations in the Dnipropetrovsk province and the adjacent Donetsk province, where pro-Russian militants have occupied government offices in some cities. Mr. Chyrych was said to have a spy camera disguised as glasses.

The official said that the pair were being questioned by investigators with the Security Service of Ukraine in Dnipropetrovsk.

Mr. Chyrych told the investigators that he had arrived in Ukraine to make a video of Mr. Larson's exorcism sessions and planned to use the spy camera if he was prohibited from filming, said Unian.

The other man reportedly said that he had been asked by Mr. Chyrych to help him with filming Mr. Larson's work in exchange for a fee of 400 hryvnias per day.

A police officer told Unian that the memory cards had no pictures or videos related to the US pastor but contained images of military installations, including air defense facilities, close to the border between the Dnipropetrovsk and Donetsk provinces.