State of emergency could return to Czechia to help tackle Ukrainian crisis

Plus: Senate wants exclusion of Russia and Belarus from Czech business, NGOs collect over CZK 1 billion in Ukraine aid, and more headlines. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 02.03.2022 09:20:00 (updated on 02.03.2022) Reading time: 6 minutes

16:25 Czechia could see return of state of emergency

Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan wrote on Twitter that it will probably be necessary to declare a state of emergency in Czechia soon to provide help to those fleeing Ukraine amid the Russian invasion. Rakušan said a state of emergency would allow Czech regions to use their human and material resources more effectively in tackling the crisis. The Czech Republic has lived under a state of emergency for significant portions of the past two years due to the Covid pandemic. Rakušan said that this time, the state of emergency would not interfere with day-to-day life.

16:15 Senate wants exclusion of Russia and Belarus from Czech business

The Czech Senate wants citizens and companies from Russia and Belarus to be barred from accessing Czech subsidies, participating in state tenders, and handling real estate. A vote on this motion was passed by 62 of the 64 senators present. The recommendation was urged by Finance Minister Zbyněk Stanjura, who said the Czech cabinet has a similar plan. The Senate also called for exclusion from the SWIFT banking system to be expanded to all Russian and Belarusian banks, not just the seven removed so far.

15:10 NGOs collect over CZK 1 billion in Ukraine aid

The Czech Republic has collected far in excess of CZK 1 billion in aid money for Ukraine as it fights against Russian invasion. Millions more flow in every day, donated by individuals, companies, institutions, municipal authorities and through charity events. By this morning, CZK 920 million had been collected by the SOS Ukraine campaign organized by People In Need (Člověk v tísni), while CZK 316 million has already been raised by the Ukrainian Embassy to support the Ukrainian army. Caritas ČR has meanwhile raised CZK 62 million to secure essential needs such as water, food, sanitary items and shelter for those affected by the war.

12:47 Czech House in Moscow closed

The Czech Republic has closed its Czech House in Moscow over Russia's invasion of Ukraine and due to concerns about the safety of Czech citizens in Russia. The Czech government meanwhile closed Russian general consulates in Karlovy Vary and Brno, while suspending the operation of Czech consulates in St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg, Russia. The reception of Russian citizens' visa applications are suspended at all diplomatic missions except in cases of humanitarian need.

12:24 Slovakia evacuating remaining diplomats from Kyiv

Slovakia is evacuating its remaining diplomats with Kyiv, including people of other nationalities, journalists and children in the group. The group of 26 people and ten vehicles, including journalists from Britain and Germany as well as some Ukrainians, follows an earlier departure of the bulk of embassy staff. The Slovak government has also discontinued its visa-free contact agreement with Russia for diplomatic and official passport holders. This step, requiring Russian diplomats to obtain visas, was agreed by EU leaders last week. The Czech Republic has also evacuated its embassy in Kyiv as well as its general consulate in Lviv.

12:09 Prague Castle to hoist Ukrainian flag

Prague Castle will show solidarity with Ukraine by hoisting the Ukrainian flag and playing the nation's anthem at the changing of the guard at the first courtyard on Monday, according to President Zeman's spokesperson Jiří Ovčáček. Zeman's office will also call on guests at the state awards ceremony to take place on Monday evening to financially support aid to the Ukrainian people. The traditional reception in the Spanish Hall at the Castle following the ceremony will be scrapped.

11:40 Russian Foreign Minister says WWIII would be nuclear

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with Al Jazeera television today that if World War III starts, it will involve nuclear weapons. Lavrov re-iterated Moscow's claims that the invasion of Ukraine is a self-protective step to prevent that country acquiring nuclear weapons. "World War III will be nuclear," Lavrov said, arguing that the invasion of Ukraine is necessary measure "to prevent the emergence of nuclear weapons and related technologies in Ukraine."

Refugee crisis Thousands of refugee visa applications filed

The first figures for the number of refugees seeking asylum in the Czech Republic as a result of the war in Ukraine have been released, with 4,578 applications for long-term visas made by Ukrainians since the outbreak of the conflict. Russian forces entered Ukraine six days ago.

It’s thought over 660,000 people have already fled Ukraine. Most of them are women and children, as men aged 18 to 60 have been banned from leaving Ukraine. Ukrainians staying with relatives in the Czech Republic must report themselves to the immigration police within three days of their arrival.

Security Fiala: the Czech Republic is not in danger

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said on Czech Television that there is no indication that the Czech Republic is in danger because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Fiala said that last Friday’s NATO summit saw a determination from all member states to defend NATO territory if necessary, but that NATO is not planning military intervention in Ukraine.

“Our security is based on being members of NATO,” Fiala said. NATO decided on Friday to strengthen its eastern wing in response to Russia’s aggression. But Fiala stressed that NATO is a defensive alliance, not an aggressor. “Any intervention in Ukraine by the North Atlantic Alliance would mean a world war. That’s just the way it is,” he said. 

Benefit Concert for Ukraine takes place in Prague

Prague’s Wenceslas Square was the venue for a special Concert for Ukraine yesterday evening. The benefit concert featured rock groups, soloists and a chamber orchestra from the Czech Philharmonic. Performers from the National Theater and State Opera also took the stage.

The concert was broadcast live on Czech Television and other TV and radio stations. The public sent in a total of CZK 22.5 million crowns for humanitarian aid by SMS message during the concert. The donations complement the CZK 158 million already sent to the SOS Ukraine fund for the People In Need (Člověk v tísni) organization. The concert ended with a rendition of the Ukrainian national anthem performed by the choir of the National Theater.

Nuclear threat Czechs stockpile iodine tablets amid nuclear fears

Czech pharmacies are seeing an onslaught of customers stockpiling iodine tablets, used to purify water in case of a nuclear attack. Experts are urging people not to panic and that the threat of nuclear conflict is low. The State Office for Nuclear Safety said on Monday that iodine tablets are a precautionary measure for use in case of events such as accidents at nuclear power plants.

Yet they would be of little use in the event of a nuclear explosion, the office said; its chairwoman said tablets would be “basically useless” in the event of a nuclear blast. Nonetheless, Czechs are buying them in bulk. Politicians and other authorities are all stressing that there is no need to panic over the prospect of nuclear conflict.

Economy Sberbank pulls out of Europe

Russia’s Sberbank is pulling out of the European market as a result of a large outflow of cash from subsidiaries, while citing a supposed threat to the safety of employees and property. Russia’s largest bank made no mention of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in its statement.

The bank said it was no longer able to provide liquidity for its European subsidiaries. It is therefore pulling out while it is still capable of paying money back to all depositors. The move comes after unprecedented western sanctions against Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, including the exclusion of some banks (not including Sberbank) from the SWIFT global payment system. The Czech National Bank revoked Sberbank CZ’s banking license on Monday.

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