First of all, it must be said that we Ukrainians are sincerely grateful to the Czech citizens and the Czech state for all the help. Since the end of February last year, Ukrainian war refugees have been coming to the Czech Republic with the help of volunteers and state authorities. But right now, another tragedy is happening in the Czech Republic, the consequences of which may be long-lasting. And the recently approved “Lex Ukraine V” is directly related to this.
I would like to tell you an old parable. A man was being chased by a tiger. The man ran and fell into the precipice, but caught hold of the root of a tree sticking out of the side of the mountain and hung on to it. The man looked down and saw another tiger waiting for him at the bottom of the precipice. A mouse jumped out of the hole near the man’s head and started nibbling at the root. When it was clear that the root would break, the man suddenly saw a small strawberry growing in front of his face. He tore it off and ate it.
Ungrateful Ukrainian loan sharks?
The amendment to the law called Lex Ukraina, signed by the President of the Republic Petr Pavel, seems to have nothing to do with it. Let’s recall some of her items:
If a refugee does not find a job without a serious reason after 150 days from the granting of temporary protection status, he loses the state health insurance. Excluded are people who, for example, cannot work because of age, caring for a young child, disability or attending school. At the same time, if a refugee over the age of 26 has been successfully admitted to a university, he is not considered a student. This is because there is an age limit for student status in the Czech Republic.
Finally, “ungrateful Ukrainian moneylenders”, who until now had “everything for nothing”, will start looking for work or return to their homes! Immediately after Russia invaded Ukraine, the Czech government allocated 300 million crowns for emergency humanitarian aid to the victims of Russian aggression. The Czech state has provided Ukraine with a total of around 40 million euros so far, and the Czech Republic is one of the five countries that provide the largest military aid to Ukraine. The total value of the weapons handed over to Ukraine has now reached 3 billion crowns. However, it seems that the Czechs are already tired of the Ukrainians. Let them quietly clean other people’s toilets and work in factories, or let them go back to their homes. The Czech Republic is for the Czechs. What do tigers, mice and strawberries have to do with it?
Tiger first and most obvious
Imagine a disaster incompatible with life in one of the European countries. It is of a long-term nature, refugees find refuge in another country before the disaster. Since their numbers are suddenly very high, problems arise on both sides. Refugees hate each other. The natives try to push them back, but they have nowhere to return. What can a Ukrainian answer to the question “When will you return home to Ukraine?” when he has nowhere to go because his house has been bombed? Refugees are to blame for all kinds of socio-economic problems. And this hatred is often deliberately created by those looking for a scapegoat. It’s so comfortable!
These people fled from death to a place where they are now hated. They are hanging on by a thin thread of social assistance, which is not enough to get them back on their feet. And aid continues to decrease. After all, according to those who shout “Bohemia to Bohemia!”, Ukrainians get everything for free. It is necessary to make social assistance for them as difficult and unpleasant as possible. It is better to motivate these “freebies” to accept the first possible job.
That is why the Government of Petr Fiala has been working on the draft amendment “Lex Ukraine” since autumn 2022. President Petr Pavel only inherited that intention to “motivate Ukrainians to work” or to return. And to return – it can also mean death. A man hangs on a thin branch above a precipice. And a dangerous uncontrollable beast looms over him.
Tiger number two: the émigré criminal community
What is the problem? Find a job, Ukrainians! There are so many brokerage firms! There are so many Ukrainian men and women who work in factories, cleaners, in warehouses, on construction sites, in bars… Ukrainians have been going to the Czech Republic for years to work illegally. We will let all the refugees work as cleaners, or wherever a sane Czech would simply run. But not everything is so simple here either.
All the aforementioned jobs (and similar ones) are essentially slavery. Most of the money is received by the intermediary. People live in terrible conditions. Intermediaries from emigrant criminal communities avoid taxes and make money from illegal work. They often have even more dubious “jobs” such as pimping. Such a hostel owner may even sell you into sexual slavery by taking you to work as a maid. Or she’ll just give you hell if she doesn’t like you for some reason. In this nest of snakes, people just get nasty. They start drinking alcohol. It will change beyond recognition and for the worse. These are the ones who make unpleasant noise and disorder at train stations, who fight or grill shashlik on the balcony. This is the second man-eating tiger. The one waiting for the person hanging from the branch to break.
The opportunities seem to be there. Let the refugees learn the language. Let it adjust. Numerous Czech universities, for example in Prague and Brno, gave them the opportunity to study for free and enroll in them under favorable conditions. Ukrainians received visas with free access to the labor market. However, few people can take advantage of this option. There are many Ukrainian scientists and experts who have learned Czech at the B1, B2 level and have certified diplomas.
Many of them entered Czech universities, already at the age of 30 to 40, because of the excellent European standard. Because of the chance they didn’t have before the war. Because they want to be useful for both the Czech Republic and Ukraine. They are precious people! They are living capital! Thus, America and Canada raised their level many times over thanks to refugees and emigrants.
However, the answer of the Czech employer is the same: “No Czech will employ a Ukrainian with this visa of yours.” What do we need after some free access to the labor market! We don’t know what to do with him when the war is over. And why won’t you work as a cleaner?” (This is the answer given by the Czech post office to a Ukrainian woman with knowledge of Czech and university education who applied for a job as a delivery girl.) I would like you to know how to motivate a Czech employer to hire Ukrainians? Maybe make a bloody sacrifice in a cemetery?Or by catching a bat and teaching it to sing the Czech national anthem?
Yes, there are happy stories about those refugees who found work in the Czech Republic. But they are rare exceptions. The “glass ceiling” as a metaphor for an invisible obstacle in a career is a tragic reality for Ukrainian refugees, which the new measures of the Czech government make hopeless.
The problem is that it exists for all Ukrainians regardless of their knowledge of the language, expertise and level of education. And that the creators of Lex Ukraine are not really interested in this discrimination, just as they are not interested in the adaptation and integration of refugees. They are interested in how to get rid of them. This will push them into a social ghetto, where the illegal labor market is controlled by immigrant criminal organizations – simply the mafia. That is, right into the teeth of another tiger. But in the long run, it is also dangerous for the Czech government itself.
Structures of illegal work
Where did the mafia come from? In the beginning, there were people from remote, poor areas. They were not necessarily Ukrainians. To be honest, a large number of them are Ukrainians only geographically, but not ethnically. This applies, for example, to Hungarian-speaking residents of the Zakarpattia region, who may even support Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s pro-Russian stance. Or for Russians and Russian loyalists coming from Ukraine. They came from places often unsuitable for life, usually very poor and psychologically toxic, where the initiative of gifted people was destroyed by the envy of the environment.
In order to survive financially, people from these poor areas of the former Soviet Union went abroad at any cost. Including the Czech Republic. They were ready for anything. Including illegal work. Regardless of who they were, they had to work illegally or semi-legally. It is an environment where honor and conscience are lost. A structure of a kind of “mutual responsibility” is created and criminalization is carried out.
Getting out of such an enclave is very difficult. Since everything is managed by middlemen, the workers receive much less wages. They get cheated from time to time. Owners of illegal apartments are mostly in league with realtors, because they themselves come from this environment and rise by humiliating others. It is unrealistic to save money to change your life for the better. On the one hand, a person who came to live in such an enclave is somewhat richer than he would be in his homeland.
On the other hand, he only has enough money for food and to pay for illegal housing at a loss. Therefore, he is ready for anything, including illegal actions. He dreams of promotion, but he has no future. Unfortunately, people also age. Once a person is no longer capable of hard work, a hopeless fate awaits them. The very structure of illegal work prevents him from making money. That’s why such people drink a lot when they don’t see a future for themselves and look for a solution in the criminal sphere (drug dealing, pimping, etc.).
It is very important to say that there are exceptions in this area. When people make sacrifices to help someone else make money. For example, a mother with a sick child. There are also decent people among them. However, he tries to keep it out of sight, keeping quiet for his own safety and trying to avoid the subject when he gets home.
From February 2022, “white slave traders” and pimps are increasingly active. The war and misfortune of Ukrainians is an opportunity for them to profit from other people’s sorrow. It’s easy for them. After all, emigrant criminal compatriots control the emigrant labor market. And if they manage to get a huge influx of people (as in the case of this war), the enclave of fighting and fighting toilet cleaners will grow into a full-fledged mob. I don’t need to explain why the mob is bad for a safe and prosperous rule of law.
What will happen when large numbers of Ukrainians are ghettoized by the Lex Ukraine of 2023? Exactly this! The Czech Republic will have its own full-fledged mafia. Similar, for example, to Sicilian. And the refugees will again be responsible for everything. I dare say it will benefit no one but semi-criminal enclaves.
A branch over a chasm and a mischievous mouse
The amount of social benefits in the Czech Republic was initially small and had nothing to do with the fact that it should function as an “incentive for slackers”. However, they remain silent on the fact that the process of obtaining social assistance through an electronic application could be compared to the novels of Franz Kafka. Housing costs are high. Discrimination in the employment of refugees has already been described above. It fits well with the description of the man who was holding on to the branch and hanging over the precipice. Not very customizable, is it?
And then a mischievous mouse appears! And they bite the last support – a twig. The analogy is obvious! Perhaps we should not exert social and psychological pressure only on Ukrainians. What needs to be done to motivate Czech employers to change, so that it would be beneficial for them to employ Ukrainians in their field? Perhaps we should give Ukrainians a real choice of employment, and not force them into slavery to the mafia.
Oh yeah, there’s still that strawberry the poor guy ate at the last minute. And that is the small joy we have when we succeed in something. Learn the language. Go to university. Go for a nature walk. Go see the almond blossoms. Pet the happy dog. Eat ice cream. It is the hope that you will be saved from trouble. That you will be heard.
Tigers can grow into monsters
What should we do? The author will not describe here how to fight the mafia. The police are better at it. The problem is of an older date and predates the great war between Russia and Ukraine. In this situation, at least we must not allow it to grow uncontrollably. For that, however, it is very important that the problem is not “fed” through refugees.
To adhere to the logic of the national-chauvinistic rampage in Wenceslas Square would be to condemn people to certain death. The bravery and excellence on Ukrainian social media can give the false impression that the war is almost over. But unfortunately, this is just a psychological defense tactic for people in great sadness and stress. In fact, there are no safe places in Ukraine. The question “When will you leave?” is equivalent to the question “When are you going to get shot?”.
While the war continues and refugees have nowhere to go, it is more logical to group forced migrants according to their potential. Who is educated and who wants to study? Who doesn’t want to learn? Who wants to but can’t? Who is good as a worker? Where and how to hire creative Ukrainians? Who is destructive? And at the same time create benefits for qualified categories of refugees. Including employment.
A country that emphasizes “useful” categories of forced emigrants invests in its success. It is worth assimilating them and employing them legally, and not “throwing them to the tigers”. Please don’t feed the tigers. Otherwise, they will grow into uncontrollable monsters!