Czech daily news roundup: Monday, March 7, 2022

Over 100,000 refugees arrive in Czechia, over 280 Czechs apply to fight in Ukraine, fuel price cap considered amid spiraling costs. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 07.03.2022 09:56:00 (updated on 07.03.2022) Reading time: 5 minutes

13:54 Czechia joined by entire EU on Russian list of hostile states

The Russian government has today added almost 50 countries to its list of states hostile to Russia, including every European Union country as well as 18 others. Previously, the Czech Republic and the U.S.A. were the only countries on the list. The new list was approved as part of Vladimir Putin's decree of March 5; other hostile states outside the EU include the United Kingdom, Canada, Ukraine, Switzerland, Norway, New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan.

13:45 Ukrainian flag flies above Prague Castle

Prague Castle, the seat of the Czech President, has raised the Ukrainian flag today, accompanied by the playing of Ukrainian and Czech national anthems, to express solidarity with Ukraine in its war with Russia. The playing of the Ukrainian anthem has become commonplace in the Czech cultural sphere since Russia's invasion. State honors will be presented at Prague Castle tonight, but the usual post-ceremony reception has been canceled and guests have been asked to financially support the Ukrainian people.

12:27 Czech NGOs raise record CZK 1.5 billion for Ukraine

Humanitarian aid organizations have collected over CZK 1.5 billion for Ukraine from public fundraising campaigns in the Czech Republic. This is the highest amount ever raised by public fundraising in Czechia for any disaster situation. Millions more are still being sent in every day, NGOs announced. Separately, the Ukrainian Embassy in Prague has raised almost CZK 500 million to support the Ukrainian armed forces with new equipment. The previous highest sum raised in the Czech Republic was the CZK 1.3 billion raised last summer after a tornado ripped through South Moravia.

12:04 First school classes start for child refugees

The first Ukrainian classes for child refugees fleeing their war-torn homeland started today in Prague's 1st Slavic Grammar School. The school is one of around 20 in Prague and Brno provided classes to displaced Ukrainian children, according to Education Minister Petr Gazdík. The project was prepared by the Ukrainian Embassy together with the Children of Ukraine Foundation and former Charles University chief Tomáš Zima. The Education Minister meanwhile said that around 100,000 Ukrainian children can also be integrated into standard Czech classes.

10:53 Czechia sees 4,112 Ukrainians arrive on Sunday, 46,000 in total

Another 4,112 Ukrainian refugees registered with the immigration police or assistance centers in Czechia on Sunday, raising the total number of refugees in the country to more than 46,000, according to data released by the Interior Ministry on Twitter Monday morning.

So far, the ministry has granted over 57,000 special visas, including 11,438 on Sunday alone. The ministry estimates the number of Ukrainian refugees who have arrived in Czechia since the Russian invasion at 100,000, twice as many as on Friday.

The pressure faced by some registration centers, such as the assistance center in Prague's Congress Centre has increased. On Friday, the center processed some 2,600 people, on Saturday 3,017 and on Sunday 3,284. The City of Prague planned the center's capacity for about 2,000 people a day, which is why the transfer of refugees from Prague to less burdened Czech regions has started.

The Interior Ministry has issued a total of 57,025 special visas so far, about 12,000 on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday each. The biggest Czech health insurer, VZP, has registered some 40,000 Ukrainian refugees for public insurance, about 10,000 a day.

Refugee crisis 100,000 Ukrainian refugees reach Czechia

Around 100,000 refugees from Ukraine have already arrived in the Czech Republic as a a result of Russia's invasion, according to Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan. European Commission Vice-President Věra Jourová meanwhile told journalists that the war could result in as many as eight million people arriving in the EU.

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský announced that the Czech government will ask the EU for financial assistance for dealing with the influx of refugees. Since the outbreak of war, over 1.5 million people have fled to neighboring countries, with the majority going to Poland. The number arriving in Czechia increased significantly over the weekend, with Rakušan estimating that the total has now crossed the 100,000 mark. Most of these are women, children and elderly people.

Foreign legion Over 280 Czechs apply to fight in Ukraine

The Czech Ministry of Defense has received 284 applications from people wanting to fight against Russia within the Ukrainian armed forces, the Ministry announced yesterday. The number of applicants has tripled in the space of four days.

Candidates are eager to fight with Ukraine after Prime Minister Petr Fiala and President Zeman agreed a blanket presidential pardon for those who go to fight in Ukraine. Zeman’s spokesperson said previously that around 300 people had asked about the possibility of getting a presidential exemption to fight in Ukraine from the Castle, who have now been referred to the Ministry of Defense for the standard procedure.

Cost of living Fuel price cap considered amid spiraling costs

The Czech cabinet will on Wednesday discuss possible measures to combat rising energy and fuel prices resulting from the war in Ukraine. “We will consider capping prices in the area of fuels and energy,” Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Maria Jurečka told journalists yesterday. Fuel prices have risen to CZK 50 per liter for the first time ever in some areas of the Czech Republic.

Others have opposed limiting fuel prices, arguing it could lead to stockpiling by concerned members of the public. Other possible measures include adjustments to VAT or instituting a taxpayers’ discount. Rising prices for food are also predicted to be a major problem with Ukraine known as the “breadbasket of Europe.”

Refugees Czech aid trains for Ukraine get stuck in Slovakia

Two trains from the Czech Republic carrying aid to war-stricken Ukraine got stuck in Slovakia this morning, failing to cross the border into Ukraine due to administrative problems. The hold-up means humanitarian aid is being kept away from refugees who need it. It’s meanwhile feared that the return leg will also be fraught with difficulty, as the Slovak authorities do not have enough border workers to handle Ukrainian refugees supposed to travel to Czechia by train.

Hundreds of people are relying on the trains arriving to take them to safety from across the Ukrainian border. But the problems mean the trains will only service Ukrainians already in the Schengen Zone, on the Slovak side of the border.

Media freedom Czech TV and radio continue to work in Russia

Czech Television and Czech Radio have not yet pulled their correspondents out of Russia, despite a law brought in by the Kremlin threatening severe penalties of up to 15 years in prison for spreading "misinformation" about the Russian armed forces. A spokesperson for Czech Radio said the new law is being examined but the station wants to keep its reporters on the ground in Russia for as long as possible given the situation.

Meanwhile, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a U.S.-funded media outlet founded during the Cold War to beam news into eastern-bloc countries, has announced the end of its operations in Russia as a result of the new media law. The station’s president and CEO said the move is the result of “the Putin regime’s assault on the truth.”

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