The incident happened on Saturday in the town of Gramsh, where a military base with a weapons factory is located. The Gramsh factory is used to decommission old weapons, according to Albania’s Ministry of Defence. Two Russians and a Ukrainian were intercepted by security staff as they tried to gain entry to the premises.
One of the male suspects allegedly attacked the guards with a paralysing spray, while trying to take photographs.
Two of the security personnel were injured in the attack and taken to hospital, where their condition is described as being stable.
Albania’s Ministry of Defence said in a statement: “Three citizens with Russian and Ukrainian passports have tried to enter the factory.
“The officers who were guarding the plant reacted immediately, but during their efforts to stop the three foreign nationals, two of our soldiers were injured.
“In an attempt to escape control, one of the Russian nationals, identified by the initials MZ, 24, used neuro-paralysing spray on the two security guards.”
Albania’s Prime Minister, Edi Rami, said the three people were “suspected of espionage.”
He praised the factory’s guards for their actions, tweeting: “What pride for the military guards who neutralised three individuals suspected of espionage.
“Now let’s wait for the full clarification of this event.”
An Albanian news channel has been able to identify two of the Russian spies.
Vizion Plus claimed the woman was 33-year-old Svetlana Timofeeva, while one of of the men was twenty-three-old Mikhail Zorin – both of whom are Russians.
Ms Timofeeva is known to travel the world and take photographs of “strange objects”, such as old planes.
She runs a blog called Lanor Sator photography, which some have claimed is financed by Russian intelligence.
Ms Timofeeva has denied any links to Russia’s intelligence agencies.
In one post on her blog, she explained: “I often get questions like this (who funds you) – and I keep seeing my blog referred to somewhere online as ‘the Lana Sator photography project’ – even though @lanasator is just one person.
“I do travel a lot, just like that – I buy a ticket, find a place to stay, grab my backpack and hit the road!
“I have been doing it for more than 15 years. My blog is not sponsored by any foreign intelligence.”
Despite her denials, suspicions persist about the true nature of her travels and photography.
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Christo Grozev, a Bellingcat investigative journalist, noted that the Russian had an “interesting” travel history and had often been in the company of other “photographers”.
He tweeted: “She has an interesting travel history: border crossings show she traveled many times in the company of ‘photographers’ – at least one of whom was arrested this January in Egypt, and had to be saved by @mfa_russia.
“Another photographer-blogger she frequently travels with is featured in the state-run RussiaBeyond project, and likes to photograph, like the other two, ‘strange objects’, like for example old planes.”
He added: “This can all be an innocent collection of well-funded hobbyist photographers traveling around the world (together) and blogging.
“Or it could be a very good cover for intelligence. We’ll find out one way or another very soon. More tomorrow, for sure.”