Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala makes daring visit to Ukraine

Government plans stricter refugee redistribution, Fiala talks to U.S. Vice President Harris, interest in joining the active reserves increases. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 15.03.2022 09:50:00 (updated on 15.03.2022) Reading time: 5 minutes

12:38 Fiala's visit to Kyiv an important gesture, say analysts

Today's surprise visit by Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala to Kyiv to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is an important gesture, according to Czech political analysts. Fiala is visiting Ukraine along with his Polish and Slovenian counterparts Mateusz Morawiecki and Janez Jansa. The group is representing the European Council in discussions with Zelensky. The trip is the first visit by foreign government leaders to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24. Analysts say the move is intended as a gesture to show eastern Europe's commitment to Ukrainian sovereignty, as most of the EU's diplomatic and foreign policy steps tend to be taken by France and Germany.

11:44 Refugees granted free access to some Czech exhibits

Some Czech arts and culture institutions are granting Ukrainian refugees free access to collections and exhibits. Refugees who have solved the fundamental issues of their stay in Czechia, including lodging and special visas, can take a trip to exhibits at the Jewish Museum and Holšovice's Market Hall. The Czech Museum and Gallery Association plans to publish a full list of activities to help Ukrainian refugees on its website soon, including events freely accessible to Ukrainians.

10:15 Czech tycoon takes over British lottery

Czech billionaire Karel Komárek has taken over the British National Lottery through his group Allwyn, formerly known as Sazka Entertainment. The prestigious license to operate the British lottery was won by Komárek's company after a rigorous selection process to find the replacement for the current British operator Camelot. Allywn will take over the operation of the lottery when Camelot's contract expires in 2024. The deal is one of the greatest successes of Komárek's entrepreneurial career, which started out in the oil sector but later moved into the lottery business.

10:00 Czech PM Fiala is meeting Ukrainian President Zelensky in Kyiv

A delegation of Central European leaders including Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala is in Kyiv today to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Fiala entered Ukraine just before 10 o'clock, traveling along with his counterparts from Poland and Slovenia. The trio will represent the European Council in discussions with Zelensky and Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Smyhal. "The aim is to express the EU's unequivocal support for Ukraine and its freedom and independence," said Fiala. For security reasons, the trip was kept secret and the Czech government office will not reveal how the group will reach Kyiv.

Ukraine crisis Government plans stricter refugee redistribution

Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan has announced that the Czech government will look to redistribute refugees throughout the Czech regions more strictly. Rakušan made the comments after a meeting of the Central Crisis Staff. Refugees will be reallocated to regions as capacities in Prague and the surrounding Central Bohemia region exceed limits.

“We’re talking about healthcare, we’re talking about kindergartens and schools,” Rakušan explained. The criteria for redistribution will be the number of inhabitants in any given region and their level of economic prosperity. The government meanwhile plans to increase the amount it spends to house refugees in hotel rooms, probably from CZK 180 a night to CZK 250 a night.

Politics Fiala talks to U.S. Vice President Harris about Ukraine

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris has expressed support for the Czech stance on the war in Ukraine, and offered support for dealing with the impacts of the war on Czechia.

Fiala did not say what kind of support Harris offered during their phone call. The Czech Republic has been dealing with a huge influx of Ukrainian refugees since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. Fiala said Harris gave him assurances that the U.S., along with the rest of NATO, is ready to defend every member state to the fullest.

Armed forces Interest in joining the active reserves increases

Interest in joining the active reserve forces of the Czech army and participating in voluntary military exercises has increased tenfold in the last month. Almost 1,400 people have applied to join the reserves since mid-February, while over 500 want to take part in voluntary exercises.

Due to increased interest, the army is increasing capacities for entry courses and medical examinations. Increased desire to participate in the armed forces’ activities is the result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last month. Every Czech citizens who is 18 or older, has graduated from high school and has some kind of further education qualification can enter the reserves after undergoing a medical examination.

Weird weather Red rain to hit Czechia this week

Huge amounts of dust and sand from the Sahara desert are heading to Europe due to unusual weather currents. Most of the displaced dust is expected to arrive in Spain, France and Germany, but dust particles will also arrive in the Czech Republic on Wednesday night, according to meteorologists. This will cause rain to turn red and red dust to accumulate on windows, roofs and cars.

Czechs are also warned that air quality will deteriorate as a result of the dust. But spectacular visual phenomena are expected, including "intensely colored twilight phenomena colored orange and red." Red rain is expected on Wednesday, falling across the country. Motorists are advised to let any dust that settles on their car simply wash away, instead of using a rag or brush to remove it; doing so would scratch their car. Dust from the Sahara reaches the upper atmosphere over the Czech Republic several times a year, according to meteorologist; last September, orange snow fell in the mountains.

Espionage Three suspected Russian spies detained in Slovakia

Slovak police have detained three people over suspected espionage for Russia, Slovak daily Denník N wrote. A colonel from the Ministry of Defense and an employee of the SIS secret service are among those arrested on suspicion of spying, the paper said. It’s thought a Russian embassy employee bribed them into passing on information.

The Slovak Foreign Ministry said three workers at the Embassy of Russia will be expelled over the affair, as their conduct was not in line with good diplomatic relations. In response, the Kremlin declared that “this baseless action will not remain without response.” More details of the case are expected to be revealed today.

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