Czechia closes borders to Russian tourists, approves reconstruction package for Ukraine

The Czech government has responded to Russia’s intensified bombing of civilian targets in Ukraine by closing its doors to Russian tourists with Schengen visas. The cabinet also approved a plan for Czechia’s participation in the reconstruction effort of the war-torn country.

As of Tuesday, October 25, Russian citizens with a valid Schengen visa issued by any EU member state travelling for tourism, sport or cultural purposes will be barred entry to Czechia. The decision was announced by Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský following Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.

Jan Lipavský | Photo: Christoph Soeder,  ČTK/DPA

“We cannot close our eyes to the fact that Russia is unscrupulously bombing civilian targets in Ukraine. We need to take measures that will send a clear signal to Russia that this is not acceptable.”

Czechia was the first EU member state to suspend the issuance of visas to Russian citizens across the board on February 25, the day after the invasion of Ukraine. The ban is still in place, and the Czech government later imposed a similar ban on Belarusian citizens. (People requesting visas for humanitarian reasons are exempted from the ban.)

Now even Russians with short-term visas issues by other EU member states will be barred entry to Czechia. Although the vast majority of Russians enter the country via Prague’s international Airport Interior Minister Vít Rakušan said the ban would be strictly imposed everywhere.

“The foreigners police has received clear instructions on how to act in these cases.”

According to foreign ministry data, up to 200 Russian citizens still arrive in Czechia for tourist purposes every day.

The Czech government is not the first to have made this move - the Baltic States, Poland and Finland also closed their borders to Russian tourists in recent days.

The Czech government on Wednesday also approved a program for Czech participation in the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine. The plan, submitted jointly by the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Industry and Trade, envisages half a billion crowns going to Ukraine annually to be spent on the reconstruction effort and immediate humanitarian needs between 2023 and 2025. Czechia will also continue helping Ukrainians via its Medical Humanitarian Program MEDEVAC.

A destroyed armored vehicle is seen on a street in the retaken village of Velyka Oleksandrivka,  Ukraine,  Wednesday,  Oct. 12,  2022 | Photo: Leo Correa,  ČTK/AP

The program builds on the aid provided this year and on Czechia’s humanitarian work in Ukraine. Some 85 million crowns a year will be spent on the involvement of Czech companies in the reconstruction of the country, and the program will use existing export support instruments.

A broad EU reconstruction plan for Ukraine was approved at a conference in Lugano in July of this year, along with a basic strategy for reconstruction. Ukraine later called on individual countries to prepare national reconstruction plans and for donors to coordinate their aid with Ukraine and each other.

In Czechia, the reconstruction effort and money donated will be overseen by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

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