Czech daily news roundup: Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Eight EU presidents urge candidate status for Ukraine, Zelensky's calls for no-fly zone rejected, Czech Interior Ministry and police face cyber attacks. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 01.03.2022 09:10:00 (updated on 01.03.2022) Reading time: 5 minutes

15:34 Stanjura proposes transfer of CZK 1.8 billion to help Ukraine

Czech Minister of Finance Zbyněk Stanjura will propose a transfer of CZK 1.8 billion to help refugees from Ukraine and provide humanitarian aid to the country as it faces Russian invasion. Stanjura announced the proposal at today's meeting of the Budget Committee, referring to Friday's government resolution which launched the second of a four-stage plan to help Ukrainian refugees. The current level of preparedness provides for up to 5,000 people requiring assistance in the Czech Republic.

15:29 Eighty-eight Czechs evacuated from Ukraine

Eighty-eight Volhynian Czechs have been evacuated from the Ukrainian villages of Zhytomyr, Malinovka and others in light of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. They will stay with contacts in the Czech Republic or receive free accommodation like other refugees from the war-torn country when they arrive. The evacuation was coordinated by the Ministry of the Interior and the Czech police in coordination with expat organizations. The evacuated Czechs are currently in Hungary ahead of transfer to the Czech Republic.

14:01 Zeman's abdication demanded over Russian aggression

President Miloš Zeman is complicit in Russian aggression against Ukraine and should abdicate his position, according to a joint statement by eight former politicians and Charter 77 signatories. Those demanding Zeman's resignation include former Czech Prime Minister Petr Pithart, former ombudswoman Anna Shabbat and Zeman's opponent in the last presidential election Michal Horáček. Zeman has issued no statement on the call for his abdication, which describes him as "denying the basic constitutional characteristics of the Czech Republic as a democratic and legal state, respecting universal concepts of human rights."

13:26 Zelensky addresses European Parliament

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky received a standing ovation at a special session of the European Parliament in Brussels today, after addressing MEPs who are expected to pass a non-binding resolution calling for Ukraine to be granted candidate status for joining the EU. Zelensky called for Ukraine to be immediately granted EU membership on Monday morning.

12:24 Russia intensifies attacks on major cities

The Russian army has intensified its shelling of major Ukrainian cities, including city centers, on the sixth day of fighting in Ukraine. Mariupol and Kharkiv have reported greater fighting as Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu warned that Russian troops will remain in Ukraine until the country's goals are achieved. Ukrainian media meanwhile claim Belarusian troops have crossed the border. However, Russian troops have still failed to penetrate the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, and heavy losses are being seen on both sides of the conflict.

12:04 Válek issues letter to doctors calling for refugee aid

Czech Health Minister Vlastimil Válek issued a letter to Czech doctors today saying their task is now to help refugees fleeing Ukraine to the Czech Republic at local surgeries and hospitals. The letter was published by the Czech Medical Chamber and the Ministry of Health. Válek said that although many may be tempted to go to the borders of Ukraine to help those in need, their task is to stay in their home country and help prepare Czech hospitals for the coming wave of Ukrainian refugees.

European Union Eight EU presidents urge candidate status for Ukraine

The heads of state of eight EU countries, including the Czech Republic, have called on the bloc to immediately grant EU candidate status to Ukraine. An open letter urging EU membership for Ukraine was signed by the presidents of Bulgaria, Czechia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, who said they believe “Ukraine deserves receiving an immediate EU accession perspective.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed the country’s official application for EU membership yesterday. Ukraine has been seeking EU and NATO membership for years, but it has not yet gained candidate status for either organization.

Ukraine war Zelensky’s calls for no-fly zone rejected by US

The U.S. government will not support the declaration of a no-fly zone over Ukraine, as to do so would put the U.S. at war with Russia, according to the White House. The statement followed renewed calls from Ukrainian President Zelensky for a no-fly zone to be instituted over the country, which would force NATO members to fight Russian aircraft.

The request came as Russian troops intensified their assault on Ukraine. Airstrikes in the country resulted in dozens of deaths yesterday, and a large convoy of Russian military armor was sighted en route to the capital city Kyiv this morning. Russia claims to have taken control of the skies over Ukraine.

Cyber Security Interior Ministry and police face cyber attacks

The websites of the Czech police, fire service and the Interior Ministry all faced cyber attacks over the past few days, according to Deputy Police President Martin Vondrášek. Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks occurred against the Ministry’s website on Friday, described as a standard cyber attack by authorities.

Interior Minister Vit Rakušan said the National Agency for Communication and Information Technologies reacted to the cyber attacks with efficiency, restoring affected web pages within minutes. The attacks may as such be considered a failure, Rakušan claimed.

Defense EU history made with arms financing for Ukraine

EU defense ministers yesterday unanimously agreed to finance arms supplies for Ukraine. The historic step was announced after a meeting of ministers led by head of EU diplomacy Josep Borrell. The EU will finance the provision of anti-tank missiles and other high-caliber weapons, as well as fuel for tanks and aircraft.

The EU will therefore jointly pay for arms supplies to a non-EU country for the first time in its history, setting aside €500 million in its budget for the purpose. Some countries are considering sending fighter jets to Kyiv separately, but these will not be financed by the EU.

Refugee crisis Czech doctors offer free medical treatment to refugees

The Czech societies of general practitioners and of cardiologists have called on their members to provide medical treatment to Ukrainians fleeing war free of charge. The associations have also earmarked money to be used in helping refugees.

Ukrainian refugees can get public health insurance with insurance fees paid by the Czech state. The special visa will be valid for four months, VZP health insurance announced. Medical practitioners provided free treatment for refugees are listed on the Doctors for Ukraine website.

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