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Last updated at 13:55 GMT, Wednesday, 03 February 2010

Ukraine and Russia argue about spies

Summary

3 February 2010

Ukraine and Russia have publicly accused each other of spying.

The incident comes less than a week before the second and decisive round of the Ukrainian presidential election.

Reporter:
James Rodgers

Viktor Yushchenko

Viktor Yushchenko, Ukrainian president

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Report

Ukraine says that the five alleged Russian spies were caught with a camera concealed inside a pen, other espionage equipment and $2000 - a reported bribe for a Ukrainian contact.

The head of Ukraine's security service says that the five were trying to obtain military secrets. Four of them have been expelled from Ukraine, while the fifth has been detained.

Russia's security service, the FSB, has confirmed the detention, but denied the Ukrainian version of events. The FSB said its actions were a response to the recruitment of Russians by the Ukrainian security services.

The mutual recriminations come at a highly sensitive time. Just two weeks ago, Russia sent an ambassador to Ukraine after a five month absence. And on Sunday, Ukrainians will vote in an election to choose a successor to the outgoing President, Viktor Yushchenko.

Mr Yushchenko's time in office has been marked by strained relations with Moscow, and his departure was being seen as an opportunity for an improvement in ties between the two countries.

James Rodgers, BBC, Europe Regional Editor

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Vocabulary

alleged

believed to be something but not proven in law

concealed

hidden

espionage

related to spying

expelled

officially ordered to leave (the country)

has been detained

has been kept in the country as a prisoner

the recruitment of

the process of getting people to work for an organistion or do a particular job, here, to act as spies

The mutual recriminations

The situation in which both countries blame each other

time in office

period serving as president

strained relations

difficult and tense political connections

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