Two More Cabinet Ministers in Slovakia Resign Due to Tensions Over Russia’s Sputnik V Vaccine

Two more cabinet ministers in Slovakia have resigned amid a political crisis over Prime Minister Igor Matovic’s decision to buy Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, as well as the government’s handling of the pandemic.

Education Minister Branislav Gröhling and Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok from the right-wing Freedom and Solidarity party have stepped down from their respective positions on March 24, following a wave of resignations from the 16-member cabinet that has placed pressure on Matovic to follow suit.

Political tensions began when Matovic bypassed his coalition partners to buy the Sputnik V vaccine, which the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has yet to clear for use.

Matovic’s coalition partners wanted to wait for EMA’s authorization to use the vaccine. They have also criticized Matovic’s pandemic policies.

“It’s essential that Prime Minister Igor Matovic, with his resignation, make it possible to conclude an agreement between coalition partners on the reconstruction of the government,” President Zuzana Caputova said last March 23 after four cabinet ministers resigned from their posts.

“With every further day of the government crisis, the political elites show people how detached they are from their real life,” Caputova further said.

Matovic has said that he would step down if he could secure a senior ministerial position, which three coalition partners dismissed.

The total number of cabinet ministers who have resigned is now at six. Health Minister Marek Krajci was the first to step down last March 19, followed by Labor Minister Milan Krajniak, Economy Minister Richard Sulik, and Justice Minister Maria Kolikova.

Slovakia has received 200,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine, becoming the second country in the European Union after Hungary to order the Russian vaccine. However, it has yet to administer them due to pending local test results.

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