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Polish court convicts 14 Ukrainians, Belarusians, Russians of spying for Russia

A court in Lublin, Poland has convicted 14 Ukrainian, Belarusian and Russian citizens of spying for Russia. The defendants were sentenced to between 1 year and 6 years in prison for carrying out surveillance and other intelligence tasks.
Low enforcers from Poland’s Internal Security Agency, Illustrative image: gov.pl
Polish court convicts 14 Ukrainians, Belarusians, Russians of spying for Russia

On 19 December, a court in Lublin, Poland, convicted 14 Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Russian citizens of spying for Russia. The defendants admitted to conducting espionage activities inside Poland over a period of several months in 2022 and 2023, PAP reports.

“All the defendants were charged with the crime of espionage, and a significant number of them were also charged with acting in an organized criminal group,” said Judge Jarosław Kowalski in his rationale for the verdict. “There is no doubt that the defendants acted for financial gain in the broad sense of the word and in the sense of the Criminal Code,” he added.

Polish law enforcers detained the suspects in March and April.

Contemporary spy ring

The group was found to be working on behalf of Russia’s Federal Security Service, carrying out surveillance and intelligence gathering tasks focused mainly on Polish military and infrastructure sites. Their targets included airports, seaports, railways, and sites related to the transport of aid to Ukraine.

The presented evidence indicated that the defendants used the Telegram encrypted messaging app to communicate with their Russian handlers. In exchange for fulfilling tasks such as installing covert cameras or engaging in attempts to disrupt railway transport, they received payments in cryptocurrency.

Russian spy ring busted in Poland – RMF24 (updated)

The investigation revealed that group members received regular payments to reimburse their travel, accommodation, and equipment costs, along with incentives that ranged from $5 for distributing leaflets to $300-400 for installing a camera, and even up to $10,000 for attempting to derail a train.

We are dealing with a modern, perhaps hitherto unknown way of running and organizing a spy network in the country,” Prosecutor Piotr Łopatinski told reporters.

According to the prosecutor’s indictment, the defendants were linked to foreign intelligence, specifically the Fifth Department of Operational Information and International Contacts of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB), targeting Poland.

The investigation revealed the activities of the defendants and at least ten other suspects from January to June 2023 in various cities across the country, primarily those near the Ukrainian border.

Individual members of the group were involved in purchasing camera components, purchasing and registering SIM cards, conducting surveillance and filming facilities, installing GPS transmitters on trains, recruiting people to perform tasks ordered by handler “Andrey,” transferring rewards, and disinformation activities. The group members reportedly used the purchased equipment to conduct “operational raids to collect information about critical infrastructure facilities.”

One to six years of prison time

Most of the defendants are the Ukrainian nationals, with two Belorusians, and one Russian citizen. According to the suspects, some of them had contacts with the FSB or other Russian agencies in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine or while leaving Ukraine through “filtration zones” in Crimea and along the Russian-EU borders.

Belarusian media names three alleged Russian spies detained in Poland, denies they are spies

The court handed down prison sentences ranging from 1 year and 1 month to 6 years in prison. The defendants were also ordered to pay fines and court fees. Prosecutors said the spying network was likely part of Russia’s ongoing hybrid warfare against NATO countries supporting Ukraine.

The judge singled out the case of two other defendants, who withdrew their motion for a verdict without a trial, from the separate proceedings. Their case will be considered дфеук under the general rules.

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