Overview of Czech news: Thursday, March 3, 2022

16:23 Czechia has nuclear shelters for 250,000 people, says Fiala

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala announced that the Czech Republic has around 6,000 standard nuclear shelters capable of accommodating a total of around 250,000 people. If necessary, the basements of buildings, the Prague metro or the Strahov tunnel could also serve as shelters. Fiala explained the level of nuclear readiness of the Czech Republic in response to a question from a deputy of Freedom and Direct Democracy, in reference to the decision of Russian President Vladimir Putin to place the Russian nuclear arsenal in a state of readiness. high alert about the war in Ukraine.

15:50 Prague Refugee Center moves to Congress Center

On Friday, the Prague Refugee Assistance Center will move from the City Library to the Congress Center building, Mayor Zdeněk Hřib announced today. The help desk is moved because its current location does not have enough capacity to meet demand. The new center will be able to meet the needs of 1,000 refugees per day. Agents at the center help refugees complete the necessary paperwork, while providing basic information and assistance. The new refugee center will operate continuously and will be located near a metro station. It is believed that Prague and the Central Bohemian region together host half of all Ukrainians living in the Czech Republic.

15:42 A dramatic weakening of the Czech koruna is expected

The Czech crown could weaken to 28 CZK per euro due to the conflict in Ukraine, according to economic analysts. This dire scenario for the currency would occur if the conflict in Ukraine escalates or if Russia stops supplying raw materials to Europe. In this case, the Czech National Bank should intervene, analysts argue. The krone has already suffered heavy losses against the euro, dollar and pound following the Russian invasion.

15:27 Central Group stops selling properties to Russians

Czech developer Central Group has stopped offering and selling apartments to Russian and Belarusian citizens until further notice. Only those who wish to distance themselves in writing from their government’s actions are eligible for an exemption from the ban, the company said today. The company’s founder said rejecting aggression is more important than profit and the move will have a big impact on Central Group’s finances as a large percentage of its buyers are Russians.

13:11 Babiš released to be prosecuted by parliament

The prosecution of ANO party leader and former prime minister Andrej Babiš in the Stork’s Nest case of alleged EU subsidy fraud may continue, after the lower house of the Czech parliament freed him from prosecution. Babiš’s extradition request was made by the prosecutor and recommended by the parliamentary committee on warrants and immunities. Babiš is accused of falsely claiming EU subsidies for the construction of his Čapí hnízdo (Stork’s Nest) resort in 2007.

11:39 Škoda suspends operations in Russia

Škoda Auto, the largest automaker in the Czech Republic, will shut down all operations in Russia due to the invasion of Ukraine. Škoda, which is owned by VW, will suspend production at its Russian plants in Kaluga and Nizhny Novgorod, and will also stop exporting cars to the country. “By suspending business activities in Russia, the Volkswagen Group Board of Directors is responding to the situation characterized by considerable uncertainty and disruption,” a spokesperson said. Russia is one of Škoda’s most important markets; in 2021, it was the Czech giant’s second largest market.

Refugee crisis The state of emergency in the Czech Republic will begin on Friday

The Czech Republic will return to a state of emergency on Friday, this time due to the Ukrainian refugee crisis. Prime Minister Petr Fiala said the decision was “for purely technical reasons, so that we can manage the influx of refugees. This will not affect the citizens in any way.

The state of emergency will allow for more effective communication and cooperation between the authorities to deal with the refugee crisis. Ministers were quick to downplay state of emergency concerns stemming from experiences with travel bans and business closures during the pandemic. No such measure will be in place this time around. The state of emergency will last for thirty days.

Czech government Prime Minister and President will discuss Ukraine

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and President Miloš Zeman will discuss the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Czech stance on the conflict on Thursday evening. The Prime Minister announced that he wanted to discuss the possibility of allowing the Czechs to travel to Ukraine to take part in the fighting. Hundreds of people are believed to be interested in joining the “foreign legion” requested by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Fiala said it was important that the foreign policy positions of the government and the presidency be unified. Zeman, who previously favored closer cooperation with Russia, reportedly feels “betrayed” by Vladimir Putin’s recent actions. Zeman described Russia’s actions as a crime against peace and called for support for Ukraine.

foreign ministry Czechia will stop issuing visas to Belarusians

The Czech government decided on Wednesday evening to no longer issue visas to Belarusian citizens except in cases of humanitarian need. Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský announced the decision after a cabinet meeting, in a repeat of the decision to bar Russian citizens from applying for visas last Friday.

The ban comes in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which the Czech government says is supported by Belarus. “Belarus is fully involved in the aggression against Ukraine,” Lipavský said. EU states have meanwhile agreed on sanctions against Belarus to further limit the country’s exports. The Czech government is also considering closing the consulates general in St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg, Russia.

MEDIA Czech radio starts broadcasting Ukrainian radio shows

Public broadcaster Czech Radio (CRo) has launched online transmission of Ukrainian public radio broadcasts UA:PBC to help inform Ukrainians in Czechia about the situation in their home country, CRo announced on Wednesday. CRo launched non-stop transmissions of the shows on its website and via the mujRozhlas.cz mobile application at the request of AU:PBC. Russia, which launched a military attack on Ukraine on February 24, fired rockets at the Kiev TV tower on Tuesday.

Starting next week, Radio Prague International, which manages CRo’s foreign broadcasts, will launch a daily podcast called News for Ukrainians in Czechia. It will be in the Ukrainian language and will offer practical information to Ukrainian refugees in Czechia, CRo said.

Humanitarian crisis More than a million people flee Ukraine

The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has announced that more than a million people have fled Ukraine in the week since the Russian invasion began. UNHCR said the sudden exodus is unprecedented in the 21st century.

The exodus means Ukraine has already lost around 2% of its population, and UNHCR has previously predicted the fighting could see up to four million people leave the country. Yet the speed of the current refugee crisis is its most distinctive feature; during the 2015 Syrian refugee crisis, it took three months for one million refugees to leave the Middle East. A UNHCR spokesperson said that at the current rate Ukraine could be the “biggest refugee crisis of this century”.

On Wednesday, the Czech Senate announced that the government was working on the so-called “Lex Ukraine” bill which would take into account the possibility of tens or even hundreds of thousands of refugees coming from Ukraine to Czechia.

Inflation Czech fuel prices at their highest level

The war in Ukraine led to a sharp increase in fuel prices, to their highest level ever recorded in the history of the Czech Republic. Petrol prices increased by CZK 1.93 last week to an average of CZK 39.36 per litre, while diesel costs an average of CZK 38.73 per litre, which is CZK 2.34 more than ‘A week ago.

Analysts attribute the sudden rise to rising oil prices in global markets and a weakening Czech koruna amid global financial turmoil resulting from the war. But last year also saw steep increases due to pandemic-induced inflation; a year ago gasoline sold for 10 CZK less per liter than today.

Berta D. Wells