Two Czech diplomats have been expelled from Ukraine on suspicion of spying, Ukraine’s security service said on Friday.
Col. Zdenek Kubicek and Maj. Petra Novotna were accused of spying and trying to gain access to Ukraine’s military secrets.
“The Czech diplomat [Kubichek] was also interested in classified data related to Ukrainian projects in the tank industry and satellite navigation for Oplot tanks,” security service spokeswoman Marina Osypenko said.
Osypenko said the diplomats – both defense attaches at the Czech Embassy in Kiev – were also caught buying confidential documents linked to Ukraine’s ambitious Antonov An-70 transport plane and Antonov An-178 cargo aircraft.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwartzenberg said later on Friday that the expulsion was a retaliation measure to the Czech Republic granting asylum to former Ukrainian economics minister Bohdan Danylyshyn in January. Danylyshyn is an ally of Ukraine’s embattled opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.
“We have grounds to believe that this has nothing to do with espionage, but is a retaliation measure,” Schwartzenberg was quoted as saying by the Czech Mlada Frona Dnes paper.
The Ukrainian authorities have accused Danylyshyn of abuse of office and misspending $1.75 million in state funds. He was arrested in Czech Republic on an Interpol wanted list in October, but a Prague court rejected the extradition request in February.
Tymoshenko and several other members of her former cabinet have also been accused of abusing office.
MOSCOW, May 13 (RIA Novosti)