Czech daily news roundup: Thursday, March 10, 2022

Fiala says Russian hospital air strike is a war crime, government approves CZK 5,000 aid for every refugee, inflation expected to reach double digits. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 10.03.2022 09:14:00 (updated on 10.03.2022) Reading time: 5 minutes

16:02 1,000 refugee work permits issued

Czech labor offices have issued some 1,000 work permits for Ukrainian refugees and employers are offering almost 17,000 vacancies for newcomers, the spokeswoman for the General Directorate of the Labor Office told journalists today. Draft legislation under which refugees would be able to enter the jobs market without a work permit will be discussed by the Czech parliament on Friday.

15:19 Ukrainian radio station starts broadcasting in Czechia

Ukrainskie Radio (Ukrainian Radio) has started broadcasting to hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians in the Czech Republic. The channel will provide the Ukrainian community with the latest updates on developments in Ukraine amid its war with Russia. The station is a foreign branch of the Ukrainian public radio, broadcasting entirely in Ukrainian and staffed by Ukrainians. It can be listened to for free throughout the Czech Republic on the national television and radio DVB-T2 network and through the digital radio broadcast DAB+ of Czech Radio on the channels 12C and 12D.

14:51 2022 state budget pushed through parliament

The Czech coalition government has pushed through its draft budget for 2022 with a deficit of CZK 280 billion. The budget includes a significant deficit reduction compared to the proposal from the previous ANO government with a deficit of CZK 377 billion. Last week, Prime Minister Petr Fiala said the budget might have to be revised as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and associated economic impacts. Finance Minister Zbyněk Stanjura said today that it is still too early for an informed decision to be made about revising the budget.

14:25 Czech NGOs raise at least CZK 1.7 billion for Ukraine

Czech humanitarian NGOs helping Ukrainian refugees have raised more than CZK 1.7 billion so far thanks to contributions from individuals, companies, associations, municipalities and regions. Tens of millions of crowns are pouring in to accounts set up to provide aid to refugees and the Ukrainian war effort every day. Separately, the Ukrainian Embassy in Prague has raised CZK 568 million to support the Ukrainian military with new equipment. The combined sum of over CZK 2 billion raised for Ukraine is the highest ever fundraising outcome for a humanitarian campaign in Czechia.

Health Covid pandemic makes Czech kids more depressed and anxious

The Director of the National Institute of Mental Health Petr Winkler has told journalists that instances of depression and anxiety have become more common among Czech children and teenagers in school as a result of the Covid pandemic. He described more cases of self-harm, although the number of suicides has not risen. Winkler said online learning meant children missed contact with their peers, teachers and others, leading to an unhealthy level of isolation.

12:54 Senate joins Flag for Tibet international campaign

The Czech Senate has joined the international Flag for Tibet campaign marking the violent suppression of the Tibetan national uprising by the Chinese Communist regime 63 years ago. Senate leaders drew a parallel between the oppression of Tibet with Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine. "In both cases, it was an unprovoked and barbarian act in which the innocent died," said Senate head Miloš Vystrčil.

12:16 No problems found with Castle handling of Vrbětice documents

The National Security Office did not find any deficiencies in the handling of a secret report into the involvement of Russian intelligence operatives in explosion at the Vrbětice ammunitions depot in 2014. An investigation into the Presidential Office's handling of the report followed a recommendation by the lower house security committee due to claims the report was shredded unlawfully. The claim first circulated on Czech Radio and the server; while the shredding of the document was eventually confirmed, investigators found that the Castle did not violate the law.

Ukraine War Russian hospital air strike is a war crime, says Fiala

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala has described a Russian air strike on a children’s hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol as a war crime. Fiala accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of killing innocent women and children. Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský echoed Fiala's description of Putin as a war criminal in discussions with his U.S. counterpart Antony Blinken.

Reports suggest Russian air strikes targeted a children’s and maternity hospital in Mariupol; so far, local authorities have confirmed at least 17 injuries. Fiala said the act “must result in deeper international isolation for Russia.” Lipavský described “incredible atrocities committed by Russian soldiers against Ukrainian civilians including women and children.”

Refugees Government approves CZK 5,000 aid for each refugee

The Czech government will distribute CZK 5,000 to every refugee from Ukraine to help cover their basic needs, and those in particular distress could receive the amount repeatedly. The proposal was approved by the government today, according to Labor Minister Marian Jurečka, and will now go to parliament for debate.

“The benefit is intended for people seeking shelter here, and it should help them pay for basic necessities. At least in the initial months we must help those who need it the most,” Jurečka said. All refugees should be entitled to the boost automatically, while those without any money or property will be able to receive it repeatedly by making a request at an employment office. Once refugees gain work, they will not be eligible for the benefit.

Economy Inflation expected to reach double digits

The Czech Statistical Office will today publish inflation data for February. Economists predict an increase in year-on-year inflation to between 10.3 and 10.6 percent, from 9.9 percent in January. Prices have risen in almost every area of the economy, with particularly large increases for fuel, food and housing costs including energy.

Inflation is expected to keep rising for months; some economists predict inflation of over 11 percent this year. The last time Czech inflation reached double figures was in 1998. It’s also warned that additional factors driving up inflation, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, will not be accounted for the figures published today.

EU Czechia to support residence permit scheme for refugees

The Czech government will back calls for Ukrainian refugees to automatically receive an EU residence permit, the cabinet decided yesterday. EU interior ministers previously resolved on the granting of temporary extraordinary protection for refugees, allowing refugees almost immediate access to work, education and social care.

The proposal is expected to be passed quickly by the Czech parliament tomorrow. Interior Minister Vít Rakušan said that existing Czech legislation for protecting foreigners is inadequate to deal with the current crisis, whereas the proposed change “is applicable in the entire EU territory.” The EU’s ability to grant emergency residence permits has never yet been used after being created in 2001 in response to a migration influx from former Yugoslavia.

Weather Sunny and frosty weather forecast for the rest of the week

The rest of the week will be mostly sunny, although mornings will remain frosty, according to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute. Large variations in temperatures can be expected, with daily minimum and maximum temperatures differing by as much as 15 degrees Celsius. Such wide variation is usual for this time of year.

Warmer weather will start to arrive on Saturday, though temperatures at night will remain below zero. Next week will see warmer temperatures rising up to 15 degrees Celsius and a gradual reduction in overnight frost as spring starts to arrive.

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