Czech daily news roundup: Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022

The Czech Republic responds to developments in Ukraine with President Zeman set to give a speech later this morning.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 24.02.2022 08:26:00 (updated on 24.02.2022) Reading time: 6 minutes

16:10 Czechia considers providing military medical aid to Kyiv

The Czech Defense Ministry is considering providing its military medical capacities to Ukraine if needed, Defense Minister Jana Černochová said after today's National Security Council meeting. The Czech military is prepared for all scenarios of development, she added. She said the National Security Council also discussed reinforcing the eastern flank of NATO. Earlier this week, she indicated that the deployment of Czech soldiers in Slovakia is the most probable option.

15:40 PM: Czechia ready for failures in gas, petrol supplies from Russia

The Czech Republic is ready for failures in the supplies of natural gas, gasoline, and other material, Prime Minister Petr Fiala said after a meeting of the National Security Council today. The country possesses sufficient reserves and the EU has agreements with third countries that aim at solving shortcomings of supplies from Russia if need be, Fiala said. Fiala reiterated that there are currently no signals that Czech citizens are in imminent danger over the developments in Ukraine. He added that the Czech Republic is fortunately a member of the EU and NATO.

15:20 Czechia ready to extend Ukrainians' stay permit, accept refugees

Ukrainians living in Czechia can expect a possible extension of their stay permit due to the current Russian invasion of Ukraine, Interior Minister Vít Rakušan said after a meeting of the National Security Council today, adding that there are some 60,000 Ukrainian residents in Czechia.

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Rakušan said Czechia has braced for the acceptance of thousands of refugees, but would not specify the number. Priority will likely be given to Ukrainians who have some connection with Czechia. At the same time, the minister said some Ukrainian nationals living in Czechia may want to return to their homeland.

In case of migration from the Russia-annexed areas, the Czech Republic has prepared plans for the acceptance of "many thousands of refugees," he said. The Interior Ministry is preparing a phone line for Ukrainians in Czechia to turn for help, and it will also release addresses of those offering help.

14:36 Czechia suspends reception of Russian citizens' visa requests

The Czech Republic will suspend the reception of Russian citizens' visa applications at all diplomatic missions except for humanitarian cases, PM Petr Fiala told reporters after a meeting of the National Security Council over the Russians invasion of Ukraine today. Czechia also withdraws its consent to the operation of the Russian general consulates in Karlovy Vary, West Bohemia, and Brno, and suspends the operation of the Czech general consulates in St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg in Russia. The Foreign Ministry will summon Czech ambassadors to Russia and Belarus for consultations, Fiala added.

14:17 Protesters splatter Russian embassy with fake blood

Some sixty people, gathered outside the Russian embassy in Prague to protest against the attack of Russia on Ukraine today, some of the demonstrators splashed the building with what appeared to be fake blood. Police detained two protestors.

Around 10:00 a.m. several people gathered outside the embassy, holding EU flags above their heads. Additional protestors gathered on Boris Nemtsov square near the embassy. A banner was laid in front of the building calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a killer.

Besides EU flags, protesters waved Czech, Ukrainian, and Belarusian flags, as well as banners condemning the Russian violence against Ukraine. Czechs and foreigners were among the protestors.

10:35 Buses from Ukraine to Czech Republic full

Buses from Ukraine to the Czech Republic are now mostly already full, according to ČTK which contacted carriers and reviewed reservation systems. For the next few days, some are occupied by about half, others are completely full. Many bus carriers say that just a few days ago buses were still mostly free for every day of the week. 

Ukraine Zeman to give a speech on invasion of Ukraine

President Miloš Zeman has received detailed information about the Russian military invasion of Ukraine. Thursday at 11:00 he will give a speech to the nation, his spokesman Jiří Ovčáček told ČTK and on Twitter. Zeman was scheduled to attend an online summit of nine Central and Eastern European NATO members on Friday, the so-called B9 group, which was to discuss the situation in Ukraine. 

Zeman said in a statement on Tuesday that the entry of Russian troops into the territory of the separatist Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics in eastern Ukraine increased the risk of military conflict and reduced the chances of a diplomatic solution. Last week the president said he did not expect Russia to launch an armed attack on Ukraine, describing the situation as another embarrassment of the American secret services. The ambassador of Ukraine will speak at 9:00 am this morning.

TRAVEL Prague canceling multiple flights to Ukraine

The morning service to Odesa and the evening service to Kyiv will not depart from Prague Airport today. Due to the closure of the airspace for civil flights over Ukraine, today's airline from Prague to Odesa, departing at 11:40 is canceled. Václav Havel Prague Airport announced on Twitter this morning that it expects the same on the connection between Prague and Kyiv, which was to depart at 17:35.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced this morning that he had given permission for a special military operation in the Ukrainian Donbas. According to Kyiv officials, Putin has launched a full-fledged invasion of Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has declared a state of war in the country and said that Russia is attacking Ukraine's military infrastructure. Ukraine has meanwhile closed its airspace for civil flights.

RUSSIA Czechs to propose EU tightens passport rules for Russians

The Czech Republic is calling on its European Union partners to allow entry into the Schengen area only to Russians who hold biometric passports, Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan said on Wednesday. Rakušan stated that doing so would give ascertain whether the identity of the person entering with the passport is legitimate. Rakušan said he would also work with the foreign ministry on a possible tightening of visa rules for Russians while creating special visas for people persecuted in Russia for being associated with the country's opposition.

Conflict Defense Ministry staff summoned over Russian attack on Ukraine

Czech Defense Minister Jana Černochová has summoned the Defense Ministry Staff over the Russian attack on Ukraine saying that Russia has violated international law and calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a bandit in a tweet today.

"Russia has assaulted the peaceable and free Ukraine. It has breached international law and even a bigger amount of lies than Kremlin has produced by cannot change anything about it," Černochová wrote. "It is no denazification, demilitarisation, or a peacekeeping mission, Putin is behaving like an unscrupulous bandit," she added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced this morning that he had given consent to a special military operation in the Ukrainian Donbas, news agencies have reported. However, the Ukrainian Unian agency writes that explosions are heard in many Ukrainian towns, including Kyiv.

Industry Czech-made electric train headed to Latvia

Wednesday saw the unveiling in Czechia of the first new electric train destined to run on Latvia's railway network. The Škoda Vagonka factory in Ostrava was the location of the ceremony, attended by both Latvian and Czech transport officials. According to the Transport Ministry's schedule, the first new trains will start testing this spring and should start serving passengers in the fall. By the end of next year, it will deliver 32 four-car sets to Latvia, the entire order worth about CZK six billion. The new trains will be used to provide passenger traffic on the lines to Aizkraukle, Tukums, Skulte, and Jelgava, as well as within the Rīga urban area.

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