Slovak PM steps down after dispute over Russia’s Sputnik

Matovič resigned only nine days after his government had its first year anniversary. [EPA-EFE/JAKUB GAVLAK]

Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovič (Ordinary People/OĽaNO) resigned on Tuesday following weeks of disputes within the governing alliance sparked by the controversial purchase of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.

“It’s only been a year, but I feel like it was 10. It was the most difficult year for Slovakia since World War II. I survived it in one pair of shoes, but also with a clear conscience and with one goal – to protect people’s lives and health,” said Matovič after he handed his resignation to President Zuzana Čaputová.

Matovič then thanked God, his family, and asked “forgiveness for all the mistakes I had made during last year.” Matovič resigned just nine days after his government celebrated the end of its first year in office.

Čaputová has tasked Matovič’s party colleague, Finance Minister Eduard Heger, to form a new cabinet.

Heger is expected to appoint a new government before the start of Easter. Most ministers from Matovič’s government are expected to join the new cabinet, with Matovič himself as finance minister.

Since entering politics as a “Christian activist” in 2016, Heger quickly became one of Matovič’s closest allies in the party. However, compared to Matovič, he is considered to be a politician who operates more on consensus and avoids conflict.

The coalition crisis started in early March after Matovič agreed to buy 2 million Sputnik V doses from Russia without the coalition’s permission.

(Marián Koreň | EURACTIV.sk)

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