Czech daily news roundup: Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Czech theaters light candles for Mariupol, number of Ukrainian refugees passes 300,000 mark, government to discuss extending state of emergency. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 23.03.2022 09:35:00 (updated on 23.03.2022) Reading time: 4 minutes

Consumers Global sunflower oil shortage predicted

Retailers are warning of a global shortage of sunflower oil as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In the United Kingdom and Germany, sunflower oil is already disappearing from shops, and a similar situation could soon arise in the Czech Republic, according to experts. Billa has reported a 140 percent increase in sales of sunflower oil in the past three weeks, and is replenishing stocks through suppliers who are not dependent on Ukrainian agriculture. Ukraine is one of the world's largest exporters of cereals and oilseeds, including sunflower oil, which is the most popular oil used by Czech households.

Politics Most Czechs want next president to be a woman, says poll

Four-fifths of Czechs can imagine a woman being the nation's next president and 65 percent of the population wants this to happen, according to a poll conducted by the STEM/MARK agency. Despite the general preference for a female candidate, there's growing conviction that former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš will run for president next year: three-quarters of Czechs expect Babiš to run. Yet other popular choices for president are senator Miroslava Němcová, and state nuclear safety chief Dana Drubová. Public perceptions of the importance of the presidential role fell by 10 percent compared to the last election, with 71 percent of the country now viewing the post as important.

Ukraine Czech theaters light candles for Mariupol

Czech theaters were symbolically lit up with candles in support of the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol and its inhabitants last night. The city is under severe bombardment by Russian forces, and the National Theater in Prague along with other theaters throughout the Czech Republic expressed their solidarity with inhabitants living in “inhumane” conditions.

Candles were lit up to symbolize hope, while an inscription on the square behind the National Theater read “CHILDREN,” a message which also appeared at the site of a bombed theater in Mariupol to indicate the presence of children in the building. The initiative was organized by the We Stand Behind Ukraine organization, and was attended by dozens of people including Ukrainian Ambassador to the Czech Republic Yevhen Perebyinis.

Refugees Number of Ukrainian refugees passes 300,000 mark

Around 300,000 refugees have arrived in the Czech Republic from Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion. Prime Minister Petr Fiala announced the milestone in a speech to the lower house of the Czech Parliament, while reiterating steps taken by the government in connection with the refugee wave.

Fiala also said he understands public discontent with spiking energy, fuel and food prices, but that the man to blame for these issues is Russian President Vladimir Putin. Fiala dismissed opposition criticisms that the government has forgotten the needs of Czech citizens over the Ukraine crisis, saying “this is a lie.”

Government Cabinet to discuss extending state of emergency today

The Czech government will today discuss a proposal to extend the current state of emergency imposed to help deal with the influx of refugees from Ukraine. The state of emergency began on March 4 and will expire after thirty days if it is not extended by the lower house of the Czech Parliament.

Ministers will also discuss other issues related to the crisis situation. These include the provision of solidarity benefits for people choosing to take Ukrainian refugees into their home, and providing material aid for Ukraine itself.

Charity Czechia may be location for fundraising conference for Ukraine

European leaders may call for an international conference on raising funds for Ukraine, according to Czech European Affairs Minister Mikuláš Bek, and the Czech Republic may host the event as part of its forthcoming EU presidency. EU heads of state are set to approve the creation of a solidarity fund with Ukraine to assist in the country’s rehabilitation after the Russian invasion of the country.

The solidarity fund would be a foundation for Ukraine’s postwar renewal; the proposed declaration being agreed by EU leaders vows to support the “immediate needs” of the Ukrainian government and the “reconstruction of democratic Ukraine” after the end of the war. Bek said a summit on donorship for Ukraine should be part of the Czech program for EU presidency later this year.

Crime Case of rhino horn trading concludes in Czechia

A Prague district court has imposed suspended sentences of one to two years for a group of people involved in the illegal trafficking of rhino horns into the Czech Republic. Some were also hit with fines of up to CZK 450,000. The defendants deny the charges and some have appealed the verdict.

14 suspects were sentenced yesterday for hiring hunters to kill rhinoceroses in South Africa in 2011-2013, before securing a license for rhino horn imports to Czechia. The organizers bought the horns from the hunters for $100 each and subsequently sold them at much higher prices to people living in Czechia who believe in their healing power. The gang is thought to have traded 24 horns in this way, worth a total of around CZK 96 million.

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