Czech daily news roundup: Tuesday, March 22, 2022

New temporary protection visa comes into effect, President Zelensky appears in Czech TV interview, crimes against Ukrainians reported in Czechia.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 22.03.2022 09:11:00 (updated on 22.03.2022) Reading time: 4 minutes

12:42 Prague Spring music festival to highlight contemporary music

The Prague Spring international classical music festival will this May provide an introduction into the world of contemporary art music through a new project entitled Prague Offspring. Contemporary pieces will be performed by Klangforum Wien, one of the world's top groups performing contemporary art music, who accepted a residency at the festival this year. This year's resident composer will meanwhile be Olga Neuwirth, from Austria, who recently won the prestigious Grawemeyer Music Award and Ernst von Siemens Music Prize.

11:42 500 Roma people have fled Ukraine to Czechia

Up to 500 people with Roma origin, most of them women and children, have fled the war in Ukraine and sought shelter in the Czech Republic, according to the government council for the Czech Republic's Roma minority. Some of the Roma refugees have gone to South Moravia, some to Karlovy Vary, some to West Bohemia and some to Mladá Boleslav in Central Bohemia. It's thought most of the Roma refugees have escaped from Western Ukraine and the Uzhorod area of the country amid difficult humanitarian circumstances.

Politics Social Democrats trying to sell property to cover debts

The Czech Social Democrat party (ČSSD) is trying to sell off a CZK 200 million property in Prague city center to cover its debts. The party failed to make it into the lower house of the Czech parliament after elections held last October. The sale of the Lanna Palace, a large building in a Neo-Gothic style, is intended to cover a CZK 205 million loan from Fio bank. It's thought construction firm Finep is considering buying the extensive premises from the party.

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Music A-ha bringing "Take On Me" to Prague on May 1

After two postponements, pop group A-ha will play their first Czech concert on May 1 at the O2 arena. The concert will celebrate 35 years since the Norwegian group's most famous hit "Take On Me" was released. The Prague date will be part of the band's European tour, which has been postponed twice due to the pandemic. All three original A-ha members, Morten Harket, Magne Furholmen and Paul Waaktaar-Savoy will be playing on stage. Tickets purchased for previously announced dates are valid for the May 1 concert.

Refugees New temporary protection visa comes into effect

The Czech Interior Ministry will start issuing temporary protection visas to Ukrainian refugees as of today, replacing the special long-term visas issued until now. No changes will affect the holders of the special visa, which will be automatically transferred to a new temporary protection visa.

Temporary protection will allow refugees to stay in Czechia for up to one year. It provides them with access to public health insurance, education, access to the labor market and assistance with other necessities such as finding accommodation. Interior Minister Vít Rakušan said 205,500 special visas have so far been granted to Ukrainian refugees in the Czech Republic.

Ukraine President Zelensky appears in Czech TV interview

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky talked to Czech Television in an interview from war-torn Kyiv broadcast last night. Speaking with Czech TV reporter Michal Kubal, Zelensky said that Russian demands made during peace negotiations, including that Ukraine should relinquish its claims to the separatist Donbas regions as well as Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, are unacceptable.

Zelensky told Czech Television that Moscow does not really want peace, although it is impossible to know whether Russia wants to stop the war without a face-to-face meeting with Vladimir Putin. Zelensky also said any proposed peace deal would need to be approved by the Ukrainian people in a referendum in order for it to be valid.

Police Crimes against Ukrainians reported in Czechia

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, leading to a huge influx of refugees into the Czech Republic, 35 Ukrainians have already reported being victims of crime in the country. The police say four of these cases had an ideological motive, and one included physical assault. Investigations into seven cases are currently underway, according to police.

Almost all of the incidents involved theft. Three of the cases involved verbal abuse, and one involved physical abuse. Separately, police have initiated criminal proceedings in 112 cases in connection with the Ukrainian war; most of these are to do with damage to pro-Russian symbols, while others relate to speeches expressing approval for the Russian invasion.

Sanctions EU Foreign Ministers fail to agree Russia sanctions

Foreign Ministers of the European Union were not able to agree on a fifth package of sanctions against Russia during discussions yesterday. The next raft of economic punishment for Moscow will again be the topic at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský told journalists.

The EU has already imposed tough sanctions on Russia, but more is being called for to limit revenues for the Putin regime. A particular area of contention is the import of oil and gas from Russia; Poland and the Baltic states are calling for these imports to be halted, while countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and Hungary are opposed to cutting off Russian energy.

Army Last US troops leave Czechia on way back to base

The transit of a U.S. army convoy across the Czech Republic en route from exercises in Slovakia to their base in Germany has ended. U.S. troops were attending the Saber Strike 2022 exercises in Slovakia in recent weeks, and crossed the Czech Republic via the D2 and D1 motorways. The first part of the convoy entered Czechia on Thursday evening, with soldiers spending the night at a camp in Southwest Moravia before proceeding to Germany the following day.

The convoy was split into five separate groups for travel. 1,200 soldiers and 500 military vehicles crossed Czechia in total. The Saber Strike exercises also saw Czech and U.S. troops preparing for participation in a NATO rapid response force in the Hradiště training area in northwest Bohemia.

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