Overview of Czech news: Friday, February 25, 2022

4:00 p.m. Czech government approves CZK 300 million aid package for Ukraine

The Czech government. approved humanitarian aid worth CZK 300 million for Ukrainians who have to evacuate their homes due to the Russian military invasion, Prime Minister Petr Fiala said on Friday, adding that the Minister of Industry had been instructed to supply fuel to Ukraine in accordance with NATO’s request. In the coming days, Czechia will also be able to supply blood and blood plasma to Ukraine, Fiala said. The Czech Republic is awaiting a response from the Ukrainian authorities to determine the next steps. Further scrutiny and new sanctions are also being considered against Russian companies in Czechia.

4:00 p.m. Czechia can send rapid reaction forces anywhere in NATO

The Czech army can send up to 580 soldiers designated for NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) anywhere on NATO territory, the cabinet decided today. Armed forces of NATO member countries will also be allowed to move around Czech territory and refuel at local airports, etc. The government’s decision is linked to measures taken by NATO, which activated its defense plans on Thursday in response to the Russian military attack on Ukraine. .

A total of 400 Czech soldiers from the Rapid Reaction Brigade and 180 chemical warfare specialists are designated for NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, part of the NATO Response Force, which must be ready to intervene within a few days if necessary. Units assigned to the VJFT rotate once a year. They include ground, air, special forces, and navy troopers.

15:39 Czechia suspends visas for Russian citizens

In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he will suspend issuing visas to Russian nationals, except for humanitarian cases, and recommend the same to other states, Prime Minister Petr Fiala told reporters on Friday. The decision comes into force from today. Fiala said the Czech Republic has withdrawn its consent to the operation of Russian consulates general in Karlovy Vary, West Bohemia and Brno, and suspended the operation of Czech consulates general in St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg in Russia.

Fiala said the Czech Republic reduced Russian intelligence activities in the country and limited diplomatic relations with Russia to a minimum after a secret report last year exposed Russian intelligence involvement in the 2014 ammunition depot explosions in Vrbetice, South Moravia.

15:20 The Czech Republic restricts Russian operations in its airspace

Transport Minister Martin Kupka will definitely decide on Friday on a restriction of operations of some Russian companies in Czech airspace, Prime Minister Petr Fiala told the media after a cabinet meeting, adding that Kupka was discussing the concrete extent of restrictions with Poland. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced earlier today that Poland would close its airspace to planes belonging to Russian air carriers.

14:00 Slovakia sends soldiers to help police at Ukrainian border

Slovakia has sent 500 troops to help police on the border with Ukraine, but Interior Minister Roman Mikulec said there were no crowds yet on the Slovak side of border crossings and that the authorities had not asked for help. Slovak hospitals have prepared for the refugees. “The border crossings are under no extreme pressure. People arrive in small groups. Those coming from Ukraine don’t ask for anything. Most of them have relatives in Slovakia or other countries,” Mikulec told reporters. journalists.

The Slovak Interior Ministry said that the main crossing point in Vyšné Nemecké/Uzhhorod, Ukraine, only allows children, women and the elderly to exit the country. At another crossing, Ubla/Malý Berezný, people have to wait for up to six hours due to security procedures on the Ukrainian side, the Slovak ministry said.

13:57 Senate wants Russia and Belarus banned from global organizations

The Senate, the upper house of the Czech parliament, on Friday called for the immediate adoption of the toughest sanctions against Russia and the expulsion of Russia and Belarus from international organizations following the military attack on the Ukraine. The 50 senators present supported this position. The Senate called for a unified position on the exclusion of the Russian Federation from the SWIFT global payment system.

The senators also recommended that the International Criminal Court in The Hague deal with the military conflict in Ukraine. They said that Russian President Vladimir Putin and other representatives of the Russian Federation and Belarus are responsible for crimes that fall within the jurisdiction of this court. The Senate recommended that the defense capabilities of Central and Eastern European countries be strengthened.

12:02 Czech sports official wants to exclude Russian athletes from races

Head of the Czech National Sports Agency Filip Neusser has called for the elimination of Russian athletes from European and World Championships after the Russian military invasion of Ukraine, he tweeted today. today, saying he wanted to coordinate his moves with Prime Minister Petr Fiala. Czech Olympic Committee President Jiri Kejval, however, said on Thursday that he did not consider it appropriate to apply the principle of collective guilt to individual Russian athletes by banning them from international competitions. Neusser proposed these sanctions in a letter to the government.

The European football association UEFA today decided that the last match of the Champions League will not be played in Saint Petersburg on May 28, but in Paris, due to the Russian invasion. The International Ski Federation has canceled all World Cup races held in Russia.

UKRAINE Czech lower house denounces Russian aggression as barbaric

The Czech Chamber of Deputies denounced Russian military action in Ukraine as “barbaric, inexcusable and unprovoked aggression” that threatens Europe’s security architecture during its emergency session on Thursday. The resolution, approved by the 166 deputies present, supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine within internationally recognized borders. He called on the government to approve swift sanctions against Russia and continue to support Ukraine. The Czech Republic should also contribute quickly and substantially to strengthening NATO’s eastern flank, MEPs agreed.

Ukrainian Ambassador Yevhen Perebyinis gave a speech of thanks and confirmed that Ukraine needs help in the form of arms, oil and money. Ukraine has called up its reserves, including Ukrainians living in the Czech Republic. The Czech Transport Minister has promised transport aid to Ukrainians living in the Czech Republic who want to return home to defend their homeland.

prague Thousands protest against Russian invasion of Ukraine

Thousands of people gathered in Prague’s central Wenceslas Square late Thursday afternoon to protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine launched Thursday morning. The rally was organized by the Czech and Ukrainian communities and the Million Moments for Democracy movement. Around 3,000 people, including many young Ukrainians, attended the event, carrying banners reading “Putin in international court” and “Stop Putin’s crime”. On Thursday, another 2,000 people protested the Russian invasion of Ukraine outside the Russian Embassy in Prague, which lasted until the evening.

Prague City Hall said further protests were to take place outside the Russian Embassy every day until February 26 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., and in Wenceslas Square again on Friday at 5 p.m. The Million Moments group will also hold a protest in Wenceslas Square on Sunday 27 February.

Survey Majority of Czechs condemn Russian attacks

Nearly 90% of Czechs view Russia’s attack on Ukraine as inexcusable aggression and most support the country accepting Ukrainian refugees, according to an opinion polll directed by the Median agency for Czech Radio on Thursday. Russia launched its attack on Ukraine on Thursday morning. The Ukrainian authorities report 57 Ukrainians dead and 169 injured as a result of the attack.

In the median poll, 87% of Czechs said they agreed with calling the Russian invasion an act of inexcusable aggression. Only 9% of respondents were opposed to such a description of the act. Sixty-nine percent of respondents were in favor of welcoming refugees while 25% were against. About three-fifths of those polled admitted they feared an influx of refugees.

More than 90% of respondents fear above all the rise in prices of food, fuel and other essential goods caused by the conflict. Nearly 90% said they also fear a protracted conflict with bloodshed and a general deterioration of the security situation in Europe.

Eighty-eight percent of Czechs welcome the establishment of peace through diplomatic negotiations. Four-fifths approve of economic sanctions. Only 28% of Czechs believe that the EU and NATO should resolve the conflict with an armed counter-attack, according to the poll which was carried out on Thursday among 1,091 people.

telecoms Mobile operators allow free calls between Czechia and Ukraine

The volume of calls from the Czech Republic to Ukraine increased significantly on Thursday compared to normal call traffic. Recently, calls have increased by 20-30% at most, according to national operators. Vodafone said the increase in calls reached 900% on the day the invasion of Ukraine was launched. All calls to Ukraine are now free from the Vodafone network. On Wednesday, T-Mobile said it saw traffic growth of about 18% over the past two weeks. Due to the war, T-Mobile also allowed free calls and texts between the Czech Republic.

charity Czech companies make significant donations to Ukraine

Czech companies and entrepreneurs have mobilized to help Ukraine in the face of the Russian attack. Pale Fire Capital Investment Group donates CZK 22 million for immediate humanitarian aid to Ukraine. At the same time, it provides 250 beds for refugees. Seznam.cz media empire owner Ivo Lukačovič is sending another CZK 23 million to help refugees from Ukraine. He also called on Czech billionaires to donate generously to the cause via Twitter.

Online retailer Alza.cz has set aside one million crowns for support. Česká spořitelna released 10 million CZK from its foundation to also help Ukraine. Many companies organize aid through large NGOs such as the Czech Red Cross, People in Need, ADRA, Post Bellum, Archdiocese Caritas CR and Médecins Sans Frontières.

Berta D. Wells