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

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 Thursday
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is displayed on a giant screen after delivering a live voice message during a demonstration against the Russian invasion of Ukraine in front of the Swiss House of Parliament in Bern, on March 19, 2022. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

Swiss government urged to step up search for Russian money

The Social Democratic Party is demanding the establishment of a special task force to find where in Switzerland Russian oligarchs have hidden their assets.

The Federal Prosecutor’s Office, the Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) and experts from the State Secretariat for International Financial Matters must have an overview of all the funds, real estate, and works of art stored in Switzerland, the party said.

“Active neutrality does not mean looking away, but being an advocate of international law and fundamental rights”, said MP Mattea Meyer.

In particular, the money laundering legislation and the law on embargoes must be improved, according to Meyer. “We must put an end to the attitude of ‘as long as the rubles roll, we look elsewhere’. It’s anything but neutral”.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why Switzerland is a magnet for Russian money

Swiss health care system relies “too much” on foreigners

In its latest report, the Federation of Swiss Doctors (FMH) is sounding the alarm because Switzerland’s medical system “depends on foreign countries” too much.

Medical statistics for 2021 show that 38.4 percent of physicians who currently practice in Switzerland hold a foreign diploma – a proportion that has been steadily increasing over the years, FMH said.

Doctors of foreign origin mainly come from Germany (52 percent), Italy (9.2 percent), France (7.2) and Austria (6).

The reason for the growing number of foreign physicians is that Swiss doctors are aging — currently, one in four are over the age of 60 — but fewer Swiss doctors are being trained to take their place.

Third-generation naturalisation process “disappointing”

The Federal Migration Commission (FMC) drew a disappointing assessment of a facilitated naturalisation process for the third-generation foreigners. The criteria set for obtaining cititzenship for this group of people is not simple.

“This is one of the reasons why we have such a large foreign presence in Switzerland: because the law makes access to naturalisation particularly difficult”, according to Rosita Fibbi, migration sociologist at the University of Neuchâtel.

“Many countries have introduced simpler procedures for people born there… this is not the case in Switzerland”, she added..

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why so few third-generation Swiss are actually ‘Swiss’?

SwissCovid app to be deactivated

After April 1st, SwissCovid will disappear from the Apple and Google app stores, according to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

“With the lifting of the obligation to isolate in April, the prerequisites for an effective continuation of the SwissCovid app are no longer there, since contact tracing will be greatly reduced”, said FOPH spokesperson Katrin Holenstein.

Depending on how the epidemiological situation develops in the winter of 2022/2023, the operation of the SwissCovid app could be resumed quickly. Therefore, the necessary IT infrastructures will continue to be maintained, she said.

The app was launched in June 2020 to track infection chains.

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]