2 Russians, 1 Ukrainian arrested as alleged spies in Albania

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Two Russians and a Ukrainian were arrested for alleged espionage at a military plant in southern Albania, the Albanian Defense Ministry said late Saturday.

The Russian man identified only as M.Z., 24, was detained after entering the plant’s grounds in Gramsh, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of the capital, Tirana, and taking photos, the ministry said in a statement. Two military guards were injured by a “neo-paralyzing spray” used by the Russian while resisting arrest, it said.

Another Russian woman, S.T., 33, and a Ukrainian man, F.A,. 25, were arrested outside the complex and their vehicle was blocked, the ministry said.

“Three persons were accompanied by police which in cooperation with other institutions is investigating the case,” the statement said, adding that military police, army intelligence police and civil and anti-terror police are coordinating on the case.

The two army guards injured by the spray were taken to a military hospital for medical care.

The Gramsh military plant opened in 1962 to produce AK-47, or Kalashnikov, rifles. After the fall of communism in 1990 it stopped production and instead began to dismantle old Kalashnikovs and other small weapons. It also repairs other army weapons.

“What pride for the military guards who neutralized three individuals suspected of espionage,” Prime Minister Edi Rama wrote on Twitter, adding: “Now let’s wait for the full clarification of this event.”

Albania, a NATO member since 2009, has strongly renounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has joined European Union and U.S. sanctions against Moscow.

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