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The Military Plant in Cerkin, Gramsh. Photo courtesy: Isa Myzyraj
The Albania government said on Monday that it is seriously examining an incident at the weekend in which two Russians and a Ukrainian passport holder were detained while entering an arms factory in Gramsh and allegedly assaulted soldiers.
“We are treating the Gramsh incident very seriously. The foreigners spent many days in Albania, they were not only in Gramsh but also in other areas,” Defence Minister of Niko Peleshi told media on Monday.
The investigation into the incident are still ongoing, but the accused have rejected the charges against them, claiming that they are ‘urban explorer’ photographers and bloggers.
The three arrested have identified as Svetlana Timofeeva, 33, and Mikhail Zorin, 23, from Russia, and Fyodor Mihajlov, from Ukraine.
They were arrested after Zorin refused to obey an order from a military guard at the weapons factory while entering its territory.
According to police, Zorin also physically resisted the military’s attempt to stop him. Prosecutors say that he used “neuro-paralysing” substances against two soldiers.
The Ministry of Defence said on Saturday that two soldiers that were guarding the military plant were injured in a fight with the two Russians and the Ukrainian.
The soldiers were sent to the hospital after the fight because they were exposed to a “irritating gas”, but they are now “in a stable condition”, said the Ministry of Health.
According to Timofeeva’s Instagram page, she has been in Albania at least two other times in 2018 and 2019. Zorin’s Telegram page indicates that he was in Albania in early August.
Prime Minister Edi Rama wrote on Twitter that all three people who were detained “are suspected of espionage”.
Albanian police also arrested four Czech citizens at another military area in Polican on Sunday, but according to the local media they were freed the following day although they are still being investigated.