Slovak government faces collapse amid Sputnik purchase

The first batch of Sputnik V vaccines arrived in Slovakia on Monday afternoon. Slovakia will become the second EU country to use the Russian vaccine that so far has not been registered by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).  [EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON]

Slovakia faces a political crisis after two junior coalition parties spoke about leaving the governing coalition over the purchase of two million doses of the Russian vaccine negotiated by Prime Minister Igor Matovič.

The first batch of Sputnik V vaccines arrived in Slovakia on Monday afternoon. Slovakia will become the second EU country to use the Russian vaccine that so far has not been registered by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). 

Chair of the Za Ľudí (For the People) party, Veronika Remišová publicly expressed her disagreement with Matovič’s presence and press conference at the delivery of Russian vaccines brought on board the military plane Spartan.

“Not only me, but several members of our party are disgusted and disappointed,” said Remišová, adding that it was “absolutely inappropriate and undignified.”

The party “needs to discuss” the situation in the coalition and “make a fundamental decision” whether to leave or stay in the government, she said.

Remišová has repeatedly blamed Matovič for poor pandemic management and openly demanded the resignation of Health Minister Marek Krajčí. Slovakia has recorded the world’s highest per-capita coronavirus death rate in recent weeks.   

Economy Minister and chair of the Freedom and Solidarity Party (SaS), Richard Sulik also criticised the purchase of the Russian vaccines and did not rule out the possibility of leaving the coalition. “All possibilities are at the desk right now,“ he announced on TV Markiza’s political talk show. 

Were the SaS and For the People parties depart from the coalition, the government  Matovič would lose its majority in the Slovak parliament, which would most likely lead to snap elections.

However, the PM has rejected the criticism, saying he does not see welcoming the Russian vaccine as problematic. “I did it because I felt that way and I don’t think that I crossed the line,” said Matovič, adding that SaS and For the People have no reason to leave the coalition. (Marián Koreň | EURACTIV.sk)

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