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

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 Wednesday
Some Swiss landlords charge "abusive" rents. Photo by Tembela Bohle from Pexels

Russians must leave  Switzerland

Russian citizens present in Switzerland will have to leave  the country when their visa expires, the Federal Council having declared them unwelcome persons.

But that’s not the only problem they are facing right now: as their credit and debit cards issued by Russian banks no longer work in Switzerland, they may have no access to money, unless  they carry cash.

Another challenge is how to get these people out of Switzerland,  since Russian planes cannot land on Swiss soil, and vice-versa.

However, according to media reports, SWISS airline, whose flights with Russia have been suspended since Monday, can still provide repatriation flights for Russians who have to leave Switzerland.

Switzerland to send 25 tonnes of relief material for Ukraine this week

The shipment to be sent by cargo plane includes essential material for refugees, such as family tents equipped with mattresses, sleeping bags, woolen blankets, heaters, cooking utensils and canisters of water,

A second convoy, consisting of six trucks, will transport medical equipment provided by the army pharmacy including defibrillators, respirators, hygiene masks, protective suits and surgical gowns.

Swiss Humanitarian Aid is already setting up a logistics base in Poland to process relief materials from Switzerland. It will facilitate future deliveries to Ukraine, as well as to the border area with Poland.

The cost of these first shipments is estimated at some 8 million francs.

Cantons are preparing for influx of refugees

Cantons and municipalities throughout Switzerland are looking for possible accommodation options for Ukrainian refugees – especially for women and children, as men of military age are not allowed to leave Ukraine.

Cantonal authorities said planning is made more difficult because it is unclear whether the refugees will come to Switzerland in stages or all at once within a short period of time.

Because many children are expected, officials prefer to settle newcomers in apartments rather than in civil protection facilities.

“This is to ensure that these people have good accommodation options in the communities”, said Zurich’s social services director Raphael Golta.

Another Swiss telecom company offers free calls to Ukraine

After Sunrise UPC announced  it is waiving the costs of calls to and from Ukraine on its network, its competitor, Salt, has come up with the same kind of offer.

The company announced it would not charge for calls from Switzerland to Ukraine. This also applies to roaming costs for calls to Ukraine and from Ukraine to Switzerland.

The measure is valid immediately and until March 15th, 2022.

READ MORE: Free transport and calls: How Swiss companies are helping Ukrainians

Swiss tenants overpay 200 francs a month for rent

Income from real estate is sometimes significantly — and illegally — higher than it should be, a new study shows.

There are regulations in Switzerland against “abusive rents”; drawing an “excessive return” from the rented property is considered “abusive”.

This means that landlords can’t set unreasonably high prices, even if they find someone willing to pay.

But as a new survey by the Bureau of Labour and Social Policy Studies shows, in the  past 15 years rents in Switzerland increased much more than what would be considered reasonable.

During this period tenants overpaid their rent by 78 billion francs, the study found. For each dwelling, this corresponds to an average 200 francs per month.

“The survey proves what we have been saying for years: rents in Switzerland are excessively high in many cases”, said Natalie Imboden, secretary-general of Swiss Tenants Association.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: The hidden costs of renting in 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]

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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]