Ukraine update: Czech govt. considers separate classes for Ukrainian students

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

Written by Staff Published on 30.05.2022 11:35:00 (updated on 02.06.2022) Reading time: 9 minutes

June 2, 2022

Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský believes that the Turkish position on Sweden and Finland joining NATO might change, and he wants to support the two Nordic countries in their aspiration, Lipavský told reporters today before leaving for Scandinavia. Sweden and Finland decided to join NATO in reaction to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but Turkey opposed their bid, though. So far, no major change has come out of the negotiations, but the forthcoming summit in Madrid in late June is expected to be the breaking point. Lipavský's trip aims to better the understanding of ways to support the Scandinavian countries during the Czech presidency of the Council of the EU that Czechia assumes in July.

refugees Assistance center for refugees to close in Prague

  • Until now, the assistance center in Prague Vysočany attended over 94,000 refugees. Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib had announced that the center would close as of June 15, because Prague is overburdened and there is no system of transfers into less overloaded regions of the country. 

  • 92 refugees from Ukraine were lodged in the tent camp built in the Prague-Malešice neighborhood during its first day in service on Wednesday. The camp is meant for refugees, mostly Roma, who stayed at the Prague Main Train Station.

  • The Czech Republic has so far granted over 362,402 temporary protection visas to Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war.

aid Separate classes may be created for Ukrainian children

  • On Wednesday, the government approved a draft of the legislation related to the influx of refugees from Ukraine. It allows for the rapid construction of temporary buildings meant as housing and education premises.

  • The Education Ministry suggested separate classes for Ukrainian pupils to be created if there are no places for them in regular classes.

  • Refugees who do not receive humanitarian aid may apply not only for lodging and food but also for hygiene kits and medicines.

sanctions EU reaches consensus on sixth package of sanctions

  • “Yesterday proved that the EU is able to maintain unity in the face of Russian aggression,” Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala told reporters Tuesday, the second day of a leaders’ summit in Brussels. “The talks were pragmatic and went faster than expected, which is a strong message for Putin.”

  • EU leaders on Monday agreed to block more than two-thirds of Russian oil imports (all Russian oil being transported to the EU over sea) to member states in a deal that will cut off a huge source of financing for Russia’s war machine.

  • The Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary received a temporary exemption for pipeline oil until they can completely cut their dependency on oil imports from Russia.

June 1, 2022

The lower house approved a draft amendment to the law known as Lex Ukraine. To take effect, it still has to be passed by the Senate and signed by President Miloš Zeman. The amendment toughens subsidy rules for Ukrainian refugees, introduced changes to the health insurance system, and clarifies household subsidies. The draft amendment also reckons with Czechia continuing not to issue visa and residence permits to Russians and Belarusians. Meanwhile, Czech and Italian foreign ministers agree on aid to Ukraine, and the Slovak president visits Ukraine.

Refugees Czechia to toughen subsidy rules to Ukraine refugees

  • Ukrainian refugees with free lodging, food, and essential hygiene items will no longer be granted the 5,000-crown subsidy, and from the second month on, the subsidy will go only to those with permanent stay in Czechia, based on a bill the MPs passed today, aimed to bar subsidy-seekers' tourism.

  • The state will now cover the contributions to the health insurance system for the refugees, except for children and seniors, for 150 days at the most.

  • The conditions for CZK 5,000 will be tightened as the Labour Office will be newly empowered to ask the applicants to turn up in person to prove their eligibility for the subsidy. The applicants would have to turn up in eight days, otherwise the Labour Office would turn their application down.

  • The state subsidy to the households accommodating Ukrainian refugees will also go to those in whose flats the refugees cover their consumption of gas and electric power by themselves. If people provide whole flats to refugees, they will receive the state subsidy only if the flat was empty, unused in the month before. The subsidy can also go to the owners who previously used their flats for short-time accommodation of tourists.

policy Czechia and Italy agree on support to Ukraine

  • Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský and his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio agree on the support to Ukraine, the necessity of anti-Russian sanctions, and EU enlargement to Western Balkans at their meeting today, the Foreign Ministry has told journalists.

  • Lipavský and Di Maio spoke about bilateral affairs, the situation in Ukraine attacked by Russia, and the forthcoming Czech EU presidency.

  • They also agreed that the Czech Republic and Italy held similar positions on Russia's aggressive behavior and would still cooperate on the provision of material, military, and humanitarian help to Ukraine.

support Slovak President Čaputová gives speech in Ukrainian parliament

  • Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová gave a speech in the Ukrainian parliament during her visit to Kyiv today, supporting Ukraine's EU entry as fast as possible.

  • Čaputová quoted the verses of Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko and spoke about the military material that Slovakia had delivered to Ukraine for its defense against Russian aggression. She compared Russian President Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler.

  • Čaputová also promised that Slovakia would look after the women and children who were forced out of their homes.

May 31, 2022

EU member states agreed on a partial ban on Russian oil imports that will entail an exception without a time limit for the oil imported through oil pipelines. Hungary had insisted on the exemption. The ban, which will cover oil coming by tanker ships, should come into force in late 2022. EU representatives say it will cause a two-third drop in oil imports.

Prime Minister Petr Fiala praised the sanction package on Twitter and later said Czechia will be granted an 18-month exemption from the ban on trading in products made of Russian oil. Fiala added that the government would not mind capping these purchases, because the main goal is to "secure enough oil for our firms and people."

Aid Czechs sent two temporary bridges to Ukraine

  • The State Material Reserves Administration (SSHR) has sent two temporary bridges to Ukraine that were requested by the Ukrainian Embassy. The parts were sent in 20 vehicles, and the transportation was organized by firefighters.

  • Health equipment and food worth CZK 120 million have been sent to Ukraine from the state reserves since the start of the war.

  • The Czech government has so far sent military material including heavy arms to Ukraine worth over CZK 3.5 billion. Defense Minister Jana Černochová is about to propose further deliveries for up to CZK 700 million.

  • Since the start of the Russian invasion, Czechs have collected at least CZK 3.5 billion in aid for Ukraine.

Refugees Czechia grants over 360,000 emergency visas to Ukrainians

  • The Czech Republic has so far granted 360,370 temporary protection visas to Ukrainian refugees fleeing from the war since its start on Feb. 24, including 1,896 on Monday, some 200 fewer than a week ago, the Interior Ministry tweeted.

  • Between 75 and 80 percent of the originally registered refugees are still staying in the Czech Republic, Interior Minister Vít Rakušan said.

  • Since the beginning of the armed conflict, 269,651 refugees from Ukraine have registered with the Czech immigration police, including 2,637 on Monday alone, about the same number as a week ago.

  • The Interior Ministry says that one-fifth of the refugees are not staying at their original address and the whereabouts of one-tenth are not certain. The ministry plans to gain more exact figures based on the number of issued allowances and mainly from the registration of children at schools.

  • Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib told ČTK wants to meet with Prime Minister Petr Fiala to discuss relocating Ukrainian refugees to less busy regions. Hřib has criticizes the government for its approach to the problem.

Rules The Chamber of Deputies to vote on the proposed Lex Ukraine

  • The proposal will reduce their health insurance for only half a year to encourage refugees to find work.
  • Refugees will have to prove they has secured accommodation, but housing mediated by the regional assistance center will also count.
  • The time limit for processing an application for temporary protection will be extended to 60 days, and on the contrary, the period during which a refugee must report a change of residence will be shortened from 15 days to three days.
  • People should now receive a solidarity contribution to families for free accommodation for refugees from Ukraine, even when refugees participate in the payments for the energy consumed. Until now, Czech families could draw CZK 3,000 for each refugee accommodated up to a maximum of CZK 12,000 per month when they let refugees live with them completely free of charge for 16 days during the month.

May 30, 2022

According to Deputy Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Alliance and former Romanian Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana, NATO can deploy its forces in Eastern Europe due to Russia's violations of previous commitments. In particular, he drew attention to the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation, concluded in 1997 in Paris. Under the act, both parties agreed to "prevent any potentially threatening accumulation of conventional forces in the agreed regions of Europe, including Central and Eastern Europe." As Geoana argued that Russia moved away from the terms, NATO is no longer bound by past commitments to hold back from deploying its forces in eastern Europe.

refugees Almost 90 percent Ukrainians have received VZP insurance

  • More than 89 percent of Ukrainians who have received Czech health insurance are registered with VZP. Last week it was almost 328 thousand people, reports

  • "At the working age of 19 to 65 years, a total of 200,586 (61 percent of newcomers) are registered," said Viktorie Plívová, a spokeswoman for the insurance company. Children make up 38 percent, 45 percent are adult women, and 17 percent are adult men.

  • The largest increase in the number of insured persons occurred right at the beginning of the war in March.

  • The Czech Republic has so far granted 358,474 temporary protection visas to Ukrainian refugees fleeing from the war.

NATO Chiefs of NATO secret military services met in Prague last week

  • Heads of military intelligence services of NATO countries met in Prague last week and allies joined the meeting too, as well as their Ukrainian counterpart who attended via videoconference, military intelligence spokesman Jan Pejsek told ČTK today.

  • The event was uncovered only after it ended due to security reasons. Intelligence chiefs met within a meeting of the NATO Military Intelligence Committee (MIC), which is currently chaired by Czechia.

  • Emphasis on the further development of cooperation and information sharing between NATO countries and partner states is among the priorities of the Czech presidency of the MIC. Furthermore, Czechia also wants to focus on new technologies, related threats, and possibilities, said Pejsek.

AID Czech Republic, Poland agree on new rounds of military aid to Ukraine

  • The Czech Republic and Poland are sending additional weaponry to Ukraine as it struggles against a renewed Russian offensive in the eastern parts of the country, reports RFE/RL.

  • Czech Defense Minister Jana Černochová told public broadcaster ČT on May 29 that Prague intends to soon send Kyiv armaments worth $26 million to $30 million.

  • Černochová did not provide details on the type or extent of the military aid for security reasons but said heavy weaponry would be included. Czech media have reported that T-72 tanks, BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles, Dana howitzers, and potentially Soviet-made combat helicopters would be among the supplies provided.

  • Ukrainian president President Zelensky wore a bulletproof vest during a weekend visit to Kharkov. The vest was one of 12,000 sent to the Ukrainian front thanks to funds collected to help Ukraine. In Kharkov, Zelensky received the vest from the local governor.
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