Slovak premier, authorities resign over Russian vaccine deal

Bratislava, March 30

Slovakia’s Prime Minister Igor Matovic and his government resigned on Tuesday to ease a political crisis triggered by a secret deal to buy Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine.

It is the first European government to collapse due to its handling of the pandemic but the move will keep the current four-party coalition in power and avoid the possibility of an early election. The coalition holds a comfortably parliamentary majority.

President Zuzana Caputova accepted the resignation and asked Eduard Heger from Matovic’s Ordinary People party to form a new government.

Heger served as the finance minister and deputy prime minister in the outgoing government. Matovic, who had announced on Sunday that he would be making the move, is expected to assume the post in the new government.

The crisis erupted when a secret deal came to light at the beginning of March involving Slovakia’s agreement to acquire 2 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine. The populist prime minister orchestrated the deal despite disagreement among his coalition partners.

With few changes, Heger’s Cabinet is expected to be the same as Matovic’s. The president might swear it in as soon as this week. AP

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