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Poland arrests 3 on suspicion of Russia-inspired arson attacks

By AFP

May 29, 2024 10:15 PM


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Poland's security services said Wednesday that three people had been arrested on suspicion of carrying out arson attacks "on behalf" of Russia, while a Ukrainian man was charged with incitement to espionage against the NATO member.

In recent months Poland, a staunch Ukraine supporter, has seen several sabotage plots on its territory that it has blamed on neighbouring Russia.

The three arrested suspects, a Pole and two Belarusians, are thought to have set fires in an operation believed to have been hatched by Russian intelligence.

"These are new detentions as part of an investigation into the activities of an organised criminal group intent on acts of sabotage, in particular arson, on behalf of the Russian secret service," security services spokesman Jacek Dobrzynski said in a statement.

The suspects have been placed in pre-trial detention over an arson plot Polish security believes could be linked to the arrest in January of a Ukrainian national in Warsaw.

The past few months have seen a slew of unexplained fires break out in different regions of Poland.

Police are investigating one blaze at a large market hall in Warsaw this month where 1,400 small businesses, most owned by the city's Vietnamese community, were destroyed.

Authorities have refused to speculate on a potential link to Russia.

Also Wednesday, the security service said a Ukrainian citizen, identified as Oleksandr D., was arrested in early March on suspicions he "encouraged a Polish citizen to participate in foreign intelligence activity against Poland", Dobrzynski said.

"This activity was to consist of sharing photos of military vehicles that were intended for aiding Ukraine and which were crossing the border between Poland and Ukraine," he added.

In exchange for information, the Polish man was to receive a payment of 15,000 euros ($16,000), Dobrzynski said, without specifying if he had accepted the offer.

Oleksandr D. was charged on Tuesday and faces at least eight years in prison if found guilty.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has said previously that several attempts at diversion, sabotage and arson had been undertaken in Poland on Russia's behalf in recent months.

These acts "were fortunately averted thanks to the vigilance of our services and allies", Tusk said in mid-May, adding Poland would reinforce its intelligence services in response.

A loyal ally of Kyiv, Poland is a main country through which Western nations are transferring weapons and munitions to Ukraine to help in the fight against Russia.

 


AFP


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