Prague - On Friday 13 May 2011, Ukrainian authorities accused two military experts working for the Czech embassy in Kiev of espionage, and expelled them from the country.
However, this was only the latest maneuver in an ongoing diplomatic (and spy) war waged between Prague and Kiev.
In October 2010, Czech police "headhunters" detained Bohdan Danylyshyn, a former Ukrainian Economy Minister, in Prague. He was apprehended when leaving the embassy of Ukraine - his own country which had nonetheless issued an international arrest warrant on him.
In Ukraine, Danylyshyn is accused of having abused his powers when minister. However, the Czech Republic has granted him a political asylum after his detention. This act added further tension to the Czech-Ukrainian relations.
Aktualne.cz has spoken on condition of anonymity with several officers well-informed about the case. They argue that Ukrainian authorities had planned everything in advance and they wanted Czech police to arrest Danylyshyn and, by doing so, increase tension in the Czech-Ukrainian relations.
"The arrest warrant on Danylyshyn was issued in August (2010), two months later he stayed in Germany without being detained. Czech police then acted without knowing the political context," one of the diplomatic sources said to Aktualne.cz.
The East European region and its geopolitical orientation towards the EU is a diplomatic priority for Prague. And by arresting Danylyshyn, it significantly undermined its own effort.
The ex-minister was arrested in Prague's Dejvice quarter, a seat of many embassies, at 10 PM. This raises a question what was Danylyshyn doing there long after office hours.
Danylyshyn himself told Aktualne.cz that he had been summoned to the embassy by Ukrainian authorities. Danylyshyn claims that Kiev informed Czech police about his whereabouts, but Czech police denies this.
"Bohdan Danylyshyn was detained by the police on information coming from its own operative activities," said spokeswoman of Czech police president Dagmar Bednarčíková. She added that in similar cases, Czech Interpol acts only on basis of contract relations, and cannot take in account political or diplomatic context.
The fact that the ex-minister, wanted by Interpol, was granted an asylum in the Czech Republic, points to a high degree of distrust to the government of Viktor Yanukovych, mostly considered to be pro-Russian in the West.
Danylyshyn was a minister in the government of Yulia Tymoshenko, who was one of the faces of Ukraine's Orange revolution which took place at the end of 2004 and beginning of 2005.
However, it appears that the current government of Viktor Yanukovych, against whom the "revolution" was aimed, actually benefits from the Czech Republic's move. Ukrainian press for example alleged that Czech authorities were bribed by Danylyshyn into granting him an asylum. The Czech Republic eventually received another blow when its two military experts were expelled.
The Ukrainian side also made sure that the affair was properly publicized. For example, it posted on YouTube a video footage allegedly proving espionage activities of the Czech embassy staff members.
Currently, Prague is waiting for its new ambassador to be approved by the Ukrainian authorities. Ukrainian authorities appear to be delaying this procedure on purpose.
The future development of the diplomatic conflict between the two countries will depend on the degree to which the ex-minister will be permitted to be politically active in the Czech Republic.
The two military experts were expelled from Ukraine one day after Danylyshyn announced the foundation of his new organization called Ukrainian European Perspective. The organization wants to influence the geopolitical orientation of Ukraine and counterbalance the current pro-Russian orientation of Yanukovich's government.
Diskuse: Czech-Ukrainian diplomatic war: What is it really about