Ukraine crisis in Czechia: What's happening now (May 13)

A daily dispatch on how the war in Ukraine is impacting life in the Czech Republic.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 09.05.2022 13:33:00 (updated on 13.05.2022) Reading time: 14 minutes

May 13, 2022

Russian troops are continuing attacks in the Donbas and in the direction of Zaporizhzhya. Shelling of the Mariupol Azovstal steelworks is also continuing while the intensification of the attack is expected in the near future due to the evacuation of civilians. Meanwhile, Ukraine is destroying Russian bridges over the North Donets River. The refugee crisis in the Czech Republic continues as the government decided to set up a tent town to handle the humanitarian catastrophe at Prague Main Central Station.


Policy Czechia is for Ukrainian status as EU candidate

  • The Czech Republic supports Ukraine's fastest possible accession toward the status of an EU candidate country, but the process should fulfill standard criteria and it is inevitable for the country to meet all conditions for a full-fledged membership, said Czech European Affairs Minister Mikuláš Bek.


  • Bek said he expected stabilization of Ukraine to be on the table during the forthcoming Czech EU presidency. Given its role in the current crisis, the Czech Republic has a good position to serve as a mediator in the difficult talks, he added.


Refugees Prague to close refugee center over lacking relocation system

  • Prague will close its assistance center for refugees from Ukraine unless the Czech government starts working on a system of distribution of the refugees among regions, Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib said after a meeting of the City Hall crisis staff on Wednesday.


  • As the main train station was overburdened with refugees, a tent town was built in Prague-Troja. Prague has no accommodation capacities anymore and it has four times more refugees per capita than some other regions, Hřib said.


  • Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine that started on February 24, the Prague center for refugees for the capital city and Central Bohemia attended to more than 84,000 refugees.


  • The Czech Republic has so far granted over 340,000 temporary protection visas to Ukrainian refugees.


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AID Czechs offer transport to Hungary to refugees with its passport

  • Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan announced to his Hungarian counterpart Sandor Pinter in a phone call that Czechia will offer train transport to Hungary to refugees with Hungarian passports.


  • Rakušan said he asked Pinter for a quick and thorough screening of these refugees so that Czech authorities can receive the information on whether the given person has or has not a Hungarian passport.


May 12, 2022

Russia resumed its attack on Mariupol's Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, after 300 women, children, and elderly people were evacuated from the site last week. According to Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereschuk, the surrounded area is still defended by about a thousand Ukrainians, many of whom are severely injured. While the Russian offensive also continues in the Donbas, the Russian army has allegedly withdrawn from the Kharkiv area, says the British Ministry of Defense. Meanwhile, Finland's leaders gave a green light for joining NATO. Sweden, too, is moving forward applying to join NATO in tandem with Finland, perhaps as early as next week. Although the move was widely expected, it shows how the Russian invasion of Ukraine has drawn nonaligned nations closer to NATO.

Refugees Humanitarian catastrophe continues at Prague Central Station

  • For the past several days several hundred Romani refugees have been staying at the main train station in Prague as no other temporary accommodation has been found for them.


  • Some of the refugees have Hungarian passports, and the Czech authorities are afraid that these people could abuse the benefits or that their arrival is the result of organized activity. 


  • Meanwhile, Prague firefighters are building a tent town in Troy for Ukrainian refugees, which can accommodate 150 people. Firefighters hand over the finished tent town to the Ministry of the Interior and the municipality on Thursday morning.


  • The Czech Republic has so far granted 338,830 temporary protection visas to Ukrainian refugees fleeing from the war since its start on February 24, including 1,679 on Wednesday, roughly 200 fewer than a week ago.


AID Czechia sends 103 soldiers to join Ukrainian army

  • Czech Republic President Milos Zeman has given official approval to 103 of the country’s citizens seeking to join the Armed Forces of Ukraine, spokesperson Jiří Ovčáček said on May 11. He added that Prime Minister Petr Fiala has to co-sign the decision.


  • The president made an exemption from the law by allowing Czech to join the Ukrainian army as Czech citizens are banned from service in foreign armies – a crime punishable by a prison term of up to five years.

     

  • A total of 400 Czechs have applied for an exemption from the ban, according to the Defense Ministry. 


  • According to available information, Czech volunteers have already been taking part in the fighting in Ukraine. 


  • The Czech Senate called on the cabinet in a resolution today to continue with the quick supplies of further military materiel to Ukraine faced by Russian aggression and recommended sending in heavy weapons from the equipment of the pre-1989 Czechoslovak army.


Policy Czech Senate recognizes Russian actions in Ukraine as genocide

  • The upper house of the Czech parliament passed a resolution Wednesday urging the government to recognize suspected war crimes in Ukraine as genocide.


  • The motion, which passed by 55 votes to 1, follows similar moves by Lithuanian lawmakers Tuesday — they also recognized Russia as a “terrorist state” — and Estonia in late April. Outside Europe, only Canada’s parliament has labeled Moscow’s actions as genocide.


  • Responding to the resolution, Ukraine’s ambassador to the Czech Republic lauded the senators. “The Czech Senate has just recognized … the genocide of the Ukrainian people,” Yevhen Perebyinis wrote on Facebook. “Thank you!”


SANCTIONS Czechia to enact Magnitsky Act

  • The Czech Republic’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday that the country could soon adopt the Magnitsky Act a law that targets persons and businesses implicated or affiliated with serious human rights breaches.


  • The Magnitsky Act would allow the Czech Republic to impose sanctions on anyone who violated human rights outside of the EU penalty system, by freezing their assets or banning them from entering the country.


May 11, 2022

The war is directly affecting gas supplies to Europe as Ukraine's gas transmission operator says it will shut off almost a third of Russian gas that passes through the country onward to Europe, citing '"force majeure." This could push up natural gas prices in Europe and set up a potential dispute with Russia’s Gazprom, which called a Ukrainian proposal to shift the transit of gas to another station in Ukrainian territory “technologically impossible.” On Tuesday, Ukrainian forces made strategic gains, pushing Russian forces back in some parts of the country. Meanwhile, the US House of Representatives has voted overwhelmingly to send a new $40 billion aid package to Ukraine.

Policy Prague is building a refugee tent camp

  • A tent camp for Ukrainian refugees will be set up in Prague today. Although the authorities have not yet announced where it will be, the measure takes place in response to the critical developments around the accommodation of refugees in the capital. Prague's main railway station is particularly crowded with migrants, many of whom are Roma families. Interior Minister Vít Rakušan promised in the morning that the situation was being resolved; his solution seems to be building a tent town and planning to negotiate with the Hungarian side about people with Hungarian citizenship.


  • "Today, tents will be set up for 150 people with all the sanitary facilities so that people do not have to spend the night in the corridors," Rakušan told iDnes.cz.
  • According to Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib, the Czech government must create a system and start distributing Ukrainian refugees evenly to all country regions. Otherwise, the capital city may collapse, and it will have to close its overburdened center for refugees, he said. Hřib sent a mayor to PM Fiala, asking to solve the issue.


  • Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February, the Prague center for refugees for the capital city and Central Bohemia attended to 84,219 refugees. Currently, Prague is dealing with the humanitarian crisis at the Prague Central Station as a number of Roma refugees are forced to stay there in unsuitable conditions.


AID Czech National Museum sends emergency supplies to help Ukraine preserve art

  • On behalf of the Czech Ministry of Culture, Czech National Museum sent emergency supplies to Ukraine on Tuesday to help save the local cultural monuments threatened by the war.


  • The supplies include mainly packaging and restoration materials, such as bubble wrap, archive boards, polyethylene foam, or polyethylene fabrics, which are needed during the evacuation and protection of cultural objects. In addition, the aid also contains the equipment needed for maintaining overall safety.


Refugees Czech police send questionnaires to help identify war crimes in Ukraine

  • The Czech police have started sending out an electronic questionnaire to help identify war crimes, which can also be found on their website. In connection with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the police are investigating the alleged crimes of using a prohibited means of warfare and illegal conduct of the fight. Such information may be available to refugees from Ukraine who are currently present in the Czech Republic and whose possible testimonies or audio-visual materials will significantly contribute to proper documentation of specific crimes. 


  • Roma organizations and members of the Government Council for Roma Community Affairs have called on PM Petr Fiala to call an emergency meeting of the council over displays of racism and discrimination against Roma refugees from Ukraine on the part of the authorities.


  • The Czech Republic has so far granted 337,151 temporary protection visas to Ukrainians fleeing from the war since its start on February 24, including 1,987 on Tuesday, about the same as a week ago.


Sanctions Zelensky urges for further anti-Russian sanctions

  • Ukraine needs Western countries to adopt further anti-Russian sanctions, including energy measures, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told deputies of the Slovak parliament in an address via video conference on Tuesday.


  • The EU member states have not reached an agreement on the sixth package of the sanctions targeting Russia, including a ban on the import of Russian oil. Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Bulgaria have been resisting approval and demanding special dispensations to accommodate domestic needs.


May 10, 2022

Despite weeks of fear that the Kremlin may double down on its assault on Ukraine on Victory Day, Russian President Vladimir Putin did not escalate his war efforts as he held a huge parade in Moscow. While across the border in Ukraine, major cities had one of the calmest days since the invasion, the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa was struck by a volley of Russian missiles on Monday evening, a regional Ukrainian military official alleged. Attacks earlier in the day forced European Council President Charles Michel to seek shelter during an official visit. In Czechia, the influx of refugees seems to have stabilized, but Prague's Central Railway Station is now facing a humanitarian crisis as dozens of Roma refugees are neglected by the City.

Policy War in Ukraine has not yet affected unemployment and industry in Czechia

  • The war in Ukraine has not yet been reflected in the development of unemployment and industry in the Czech Republic, suggests Czech Labor Office. The share of unemployed people fell further to 3.3 percent in April, industrial production returned to growth in March. According to analysts, the labor market remains strong, although unemployment may rise slightly in the summer. 


  • In industry, however, despite the better March result, they expect the effect of uncertainty and skepticism in the next period. Expensive oil and natural gas continue to negatively impact the foreign trade balance, high material prices, and a shortage of labor in the construction industry, economists said.


Refugees Humanitarian crisis at the Prague's main railway station

  • According to the Hlavák Initiative, the situation at the Central Railway Station in Prague is still unsustainable, and the organizers are unable to provide adequate and dignified assistance to refugees from Ukraine. The problems often concern Roma refugees who have nowhere to go and cannot stay at the station. Hlavák members say that volunteers are unable to help unless state institutions are involved.


  • The main problem is with accommodation and food. Unable to receive help at the assistance centers, mostly Roma families return to the station, having no food or support. Another problem concerns the possibility of sleeping at the station due to the limited capacity. Although some of the refugees can sleep in the hall provided by the Railway Administration, there are only 70 beds for the most vulnerable, such as pregnant women and mothers with children.


  • The Czech Republic has so far granted 335,164 temporary protection visas to Ukrainians fleeing from the war since its start on February 24, including 2,817 on Monday, about the same as a week ago.


  • The Czech Interior Ministry announced Tuesday that it plans to tighten passport checks of refugees coming from Ukraine and is debating a change of the financial aid to refugees in reaction to problems connected with the migration of the Roma from Ukraine, Minister Vit Rakusan told reporters today. Rakusan reiterated today that Roma refugees often have dual citizenship and as citizens of Hungary, they are not entitled to aid in the Czech Republic.

AID Czechia helps Urkainian museums evacuate exhibits

  • Prague will accommodate Ukrainian refugees in eight flats of a house in Modřany, which was destined for demolition. Those who are currently placed in emergency accommodation in the Prague 12 district will move there. 


  • The Ministry of Education has published requirements for the form of Czech language courses for refugees from Ukraine. Operators can now start applying for accreditation. The language training will then be paid for by the labor authorities from European employment support funds, said Education Ministry spokeswoman Aneta Lednová. 


  • The Czech Culture Ministry and the National Museum Czechia bought packaging material for CZK two million crowns based on requests from Ukrainian cultural institutions. The National Museum sent the packaging and other material necessary to evacuate and preserve exhibits of cultural value to Ukraine today.

Sanctions EU talks on oil embargo continue

  • Talks aiming at agreeing to an EU-wide ban on Russian oil imports have gone into the sixth day. Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Bulgaria are resisting approval and demanding special dispensations to accommodate domestic needs.


  • The main point of contention remains the ambitious timeline envisioned by the European Commission: a phase-out of all Russian crude in six months and all refined oil products by the end of the year.

May 9, 2022

A military parade took place in Moscow. In a closely watched speech, President Vladimir Putin defended the attack on Ukraine as a necessary response to the actions of the West, which he said was planning an invasion of Russia. In response, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said Putin continues in his expedient distortion of history intending to justify the unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, representatives of the world's most economically powerful G7 have pledged to end their dependence on Russian oil; the EU struggles to adopt a Russian oil embargo. As Putin continues his invasion, Russia's spending on war reaches $900 million a day, which is indirectly being paid by Europe. Russia still receives up to $1 billion a day from Europe alone to pay for Russian coal, gas, and oil, which Europe imports from Russia.

Refugees Ukrainian students' Czech schooling to be recognized in Ukraine

  • Pupils from Ukraine who have started school in the Czech Republic will have their compulsory schooling recognized by the authorities upon their return to their home country, as agreed by the Ministries of Education of both countries.


  • The Czech Ministry has also published a form of confirmation that schools will issue to Ukrainian students. It is not entirely clear how many children there are Ukrainian children in the Czech Republic, as refugees under the age of 15 do not have to report.


  • The Czech Republic has so far granted 332,347 temporary protection visas to Ukrainians fleeing from the war, including 975 on Sunday, 263 fewer than a week ago. Interior Minister Vit Rakusan says many Ukrainians are leaving the Czech Republic, but the offices do not have an exact overview of all who are doing so.


  • The duty to report to the immigration police does not apply to children under 15 who make up about one-third of the refugees from Ukraine. Women make up roughly three-quarters of the adult refugees.


Sanctions EU's Russian oil ban stalls as Hungary holds up sanctions

  • EU countries are struggling to agree on the details of a new package of Russia sanctions including how a ban on Vladimir Putin's oil industry would work, diplomats told POLITICO. Talks between the bloc's 27 countries broke up without a deal on Sunday, and officials in Brussels are now expected to draft a new compromise plan before calling another meeting of diplomats on Monday or Tuesday.


  • Hungary and Slovakia — both heavily reliant on Russian oil — led the objections to von der Leyen's blueprint last week and, along with the Czech Republic, won concessions from the Commission so they would have more time to comply with the ban.

AID Prague Castle offers accomodation to refugees

  • The Castle promised in mid-March to offer two apartments to refugees from Ukraine. However, they will not move into the first of them until this week, and the preparation of the second apartment will take several more weeks.


  • The Archdiocesan Charity Prague had to equip the premises from its budget. "It was furniture, beds, in one of the apartments is also purchased kitchen. There were minor work modifications," said Deputy Director Jarmila Lomozová for Radiožurnál.


Policy Conservatives protests Czech stance on sending arms to Ukraine

  • Several hundred people were protesting against the Czech government's stance on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, calling on the cabinet to stop sending arms to Kyiv and to appeal for a peaceful solution to the conflict on Sunday. The protesters came to Republic Square in the center, carrying flags of the Czech Republic and the D.O.S.T. conservative movement.


  • The participants signed an appeal for peace and freedom of speech addressed to the government. According to the organizers, the Czech government is lying to people when saying the invasion was unprovoked. One of the war reasons is the unwillingness of the European Union and the United States to negotiate about security in the region, they claim.


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