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Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

Find out what's going on today in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Monday
Gasoline prices are set to increase due to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Photo by Erik Mclean from Pexels

Russia – Ukraine: Peace conference could take place in Geneva

As reported by Swiss media, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked his Swiss counterpart Ignazio Cassis to hold a peace conference in Geneva in order to bring about a ceasefire with Russia.

The meeting of the UN Human Rights Council, scheduled in Geneva for today and Tuesday, in which Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is due to participate, would be an opportunity for peace talks.

The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) did not confirm press reports about the peace meeting, but both Cassis and Zelensky tweeted they spoke with each other over the weekend.

Narrow majority of Swiss support sanctions against Russia

While the European Union, the US and the UK has imposed sanctions on Russia for invading Ukraine on Thursday, the Swiss government has so far resisted this move.

However, a poll carried out by Link Research Institute indicates that 52 percent of Swiss nationals are in favour of Switzerland sanctioning Moscow for the invasion.

Only a quarter of respondents oppose it on the grounds that such a stance would not be in line  with Switzerland’s neutrality, while another quarter are undecided on this question.

The fact that the Federal Council is acts with restraint in this crisis is nevertheless welcomed by 45 percent of those polled.

READ MORE:  Why hasn’t Switzerland imposed sanctions on Russia?

Ukraine conflict likely to increase the price of petrol in Switzerland

A direct consequence of the Russian invasion for Switzerland: the price of fuel at the pump is likely to explode, with unleaded 95 gasoline expected to exceed 2 francs per litre.

That’s because the price of oil has not stopped climbing and will continue to do so as more sanctions against Russia are put in place. “A further rise in the crude price is likely if the situation continues to worsen,” according to Daniel Hofer, president of Avenergy (formerly Petroleum Union).

If payment traffic is interrupted, there is also a risk of gas deliveries from Russia stopping, and oil will automatically become more expensive.

 “We are going to have petrol prices above 2 francs and they will probably stay at this level for some time yet”, Hofer said.

READ MORE: UPDATE: How Switzerland could be impacted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Spring session of the Swiss parliament begins today

Both houses of the Federal Assembly — the National Council and the Council of States — will convene in Bern’s Federal Palace for the spring session.

Among the issues to be debated by the two chambers are improvements to the greenhouse emissions  (CO2) law and the federal legislation concerning biking trails.

This will be the first time in two years the MPs will participate in the March session under ‘normal’ circumstances — in March 2020 spring sessions were interrupted due to Covid-related confinement, and the following year deputies met in the chambers under strict health measures, which included distance, masks, and plexiglass dividers.

The spring session will last until March 18th.

If you have any questions about life in Switzerland, ideas for articles or news tips for The Local, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

Member comments

  1. Russia – Ukraine meeting at Geneva.
    I think the restrictions to Russian air-planes could be a problem, but I hope there is a way…

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For members


Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

From a solid approval of all the issues in Sunday's referendum to higher beverage prices: find out what's going on today in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

The Swiss say ‘yes’ to three proposals in Sunday’s referendum

Voters in Switzerland have accepted all three of the Federal Council’s proposals, rejecting, at the same time, opponents’ arguments.

The law making organ donation opt out across the country was approved by 60.20 percent, providing more money and staff to controversial EU border protection agency Frontex passed with 71.48 percent, and Lex Netflix – which makes streaming services pay a percentage fee to support Swiss filmmaking – passed with 58.42 percent.

READ MORE: Swiss back ‘Netflix’ law and steer clear of ‘Frontexit’

Read about the reactions in Switzerland to the vote results in our article to be published later today.

Price of beverages is soaring in Switzerland

Another popular product is becoming more expensive: non-alcoholic beverages.

“The price of PET [bottle] is skyrocketing, and with it that of mineral water and soft drinks”, according to a report in 20 Minuten.

“And there is a risk of further price increases.”

For instance, prices per litre of mineral water are now 5 to 10 cents higher, depending on the retailer. 

Of the four major retailers that the newspaper surveyed — Migros, Coop, Aldi and Lidl — only Coop has not yet increased the price of beverages, although its spokesperson conceded the company “cannot currently rule out price adjustments,” due to higher cost of raw materials, the shortage of packaging material, and the increased transport and energy costs.

Beverages have joined a growing list of other everyday products whose prices have increased due to inflation and war in Ukraine.

READ MORE: Seven products that are becoming more expensive in Switzerland

Migros gets tough on “unscrupulous” customers

Due to a growing number of shoplifters, some self-service Migros stores in Zurich are installing special barriers allowing only those who pay for their purchases to exit the store.

Customers who pay at self-checkout terminals must now scan the QR code of their receipt to open a barrier and leave with their purchases.

This is a rather drastic measure, “as Migros and Coop have so far relied on individual responsibility and random checks”, according to Tagblatt newspaper.

Russians critical of the Putin regime want to remain in Switzerland

A number of Russian women in Switzerland, who have criticised the war on social media and are therefore afraid of repercussions from the Kremlin, are asking the Federal Council to grant them asylum.

“I can understand that these women are concerned,” said Ulrich Schmid, Professor of Russian Culture and Society at the University of St. Gallen. “It is possible that the Russian secret service reports on people who are critical of the war”.

Should Russian deserters and opponents of the war get asylum in Switzerland? MPs’ views diverge.

For a Green MP Balthasar Glättli, Switzerland should grant these war objectors humanitarian visas.

However, according to Thomas Aeschi from the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), “Switzerland should treat all asylum seekers equally”, pointing out there are many people in other countries “who are also threatened”.

According to the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), Russians who remain in Switzerland can apply to their canton of residence to extend their existing residence permit. “It will be checked whether they meet the legal requirements for this”, SEM said.

READ MORE: Reader question: Do Russians now have to leave Switzerland?

If you have any questions about life in Switzerland, ideas for articles or news tips for The Local, please get in touch with us at [email protected]