Prague, Oct 26 (CTK) – Ukrainians who want to work in the Czech Republic must first pay protection money of up to 2000 euros per capita to mafia, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes yesterday.
The Czech Chamber of Commerce and Czech firms, which urgently need Ukrainian workers, have sharply criticised the situation.
The Czech industry is short of 70,000 workers, according to an analysis of the Association of Exporters.
MfD writes that though Czech employers’ demand for the Ukrainian labour force has been steeply rising, 90 percent fewer Ukrainians get long-term visas from the Czech consulates in Kiev and Lviv than in 2007, according to data of the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Moreover, most Czech firms must pay extra money to intermediaries for their Ukrainian workers, MfD says.
Chamber of Commerce vice-president Ivana Bartonova Palkova openly speaks about a sophisticated mafia network profiting from the situation.
MfD says Ukrainians who intend to work in the Czech Republic must first register in the Visa Point electronic system of the Czech Foreign Ministry to be able to apply for visas. The system allocates the date of an appointment at the consulates in Kiev or Lviv to them, which is necessary for work permit (employee’s card).
“However, VisaPoint has not been working for long. The dates are blocked months ahead. On the contrary, intermediaries work. This is why dozens of thousands of Ukrainians have been waiting for a free date in vain in the past few years and they can have an appointment at the embassy fixed only if they pay to intermediaries,” Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) deputy Ludvik Hovorka told MfD.
This is a real jam that no one is willing to tackle, he added.
The BIS civilian counter-intelligence service has confirmed this practice.
Its previous report shows that the Czech electronic visa system was attacked by hackers. As a consequence, it is virtually impossible to register in it duly unless Ukrainian applicants pay protection money, MfD says.
“If a Ukrainian wants to arrange an appointment at the consulate, he must pay protection money… The sum varies from 900 to 2000 euros,” an executive of a medium-sized Czech firm, seeking seamstresses in Ukraine, confirmed to MfD.
However, the vice-consul in Lviv, Pavel Valovsky, says everything is all right at the consulate in Lviv.
“The registration requires patience,” he said, but he refused to elaborate.
The Czech Foreign Ministry says the system of intermediaries collecting money cannot be legally challenged since the services are provided outside the embassy.
“The registration of another person in the VisaPoint system for payment is no violation of Czech legislation,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) has confirmed that more and more businesspeople face problems with visas for Ukrainians and that he wants to deal with it as soon as possible.
Most recently, the Foreign Ministry sent five new workers to the office in Lviv to deal with the visa agenda. However, it did not help solve the situation, MfD says.