Lithuania and Russia prepare to exchange captured spies

Lithuania and Russia have agreed to exchange a number of prisoners accused of espionage, the Lithuanian news agency BNS reported, citing informed sources.

Lithuania will hand over Nikolai Filipchenko, a Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) agent who was convicted two years ago. In turn, Russia will release the Lithuanian citizens Yevgeny Mataitis and Aristidas Tamosaitis.

The exchange agreement also includes a Norwegian citizen who was convicted in Russia and one other Russian citizen.

Dainius Gaizauskas, chairman of Lithuania’s parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense, registered a bill on Monday that refines the president’s right to pardon persons convicted of espionage and to agree to exchange such persons.

According to BNS’s sources, the negotiations between Lithuania, Norway and Russia had been underway for several years.

The Russian citizen Nikolai Filipchenko was arrested in 2015 in Lithuania while traveling to Belarus from Kaliningrad. In July 2017, the Vilnius District court declared him an FSB agent and found him guilty of espionage. The court said that he had used counterfeit documents to conceal his identity.

A court in Moscow sentenced the Lithuanian citizen Aristidas Tamosaitis to 12 years in prison in March 2016. In April that same year, a regional court in Kaliningrad sentenced Yevgeny Mataitis, a man with dual citizenship (Lithuanian and Russian), to 13 years of imprisonment.

Moscow claims that both were spying for Lithuania. Lithuania has not made any official comments on the matter.

  Lithuania, Russia