News digest: Health minister succumbed to coalition tremors

Head of intelligence service detained on corruption suspicions. Doctors and nurses from Denmark and Belgium will help with Covid-19 patients in Banská Bystrica.

PM Igor Matovič and Health Minister Marek Krajčí arriving at a press conference to announce Krajčí's resignation. (Source: TASR)

This is your overview of news from Slovakia on Thursday, March 11, 2021. Learn about politics, business, and other notable events of the day in Slovakia in less than five minutes.
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Krajčí will step down once Sputnik V rolls out

The coalition of four will continue ruling Slovakia after the crisis that was triggered after PM Igor Matovič and Health Minister Marek Krajčí (both OĽaNO) welcomed the delivery of Sputnik V vaccines from Russia. Junior coalition parties SaS and Za Ľudí then called it the last straw and intensified their demands for the health minister to step down. They have also hinted they wanted a reshuffle that goes beyond just the health minister's resignation.

Health minister resigns Read more 

Following coalition talks on Wednesday night, Krajčí stepped down as health minister. Just earlier this week he said he did not intend to quit, despite admitting that he was “powerless” and could not push through some stringent rules.

During the emotion-filled press briefing, Matovič said Krajčí will step down "gradually" and will completely resign only once the vaccination with the controversial Sputnik V vaccine roll-out sets off at full speed in Slovakia.

The prime minister argued he wanted to avoid the situation when the new minister would block the use of the Russian vaccine.

"From now on, Igor Matovič will be the absolute ruler who can wipe his shoes on his partners whenever he wants. "

Irena Bihariová, chair of non-parliamentary Progressive Slovakia, suggested Krajčí's resignation is a loss for SaS and Za Ľudí who suggested earlier that they want to remove Matovič as PM

SIS head charged with corruption, removed from post

The National Criminal Agency detained Vladimír Pčolinský, director of the Slovak Information Service (SIS) intelligence agency, on corruption suspicions.

Police detained intelligence service head Read more 

The police suspect Pčolinský took a bribe from Zoroslav Kollár, a businessman detained during the Víchrica (Gale) operation, who allegedly wanted the SIS director to stop the intelligence service from investigating him.

Kollár faces charges related to the corruption of judges.

Pčolinský insists he is innocent.

President Zuzana Čaputová suspended him temporarily from the position, "because the deed was allegedly committed in direct connection with the performance of the function of SIS director".

"His continued service would be unacceptable under these circumstances," her official statement reads.

Opinion by the Sme daily Editor-in-Chief Beata Balogová:

"The arrest of secret service director Vladimír Pčolinský on corruption charges is not an ordinary police scandal. It hints at a tragic error in judgment when positions of power were assigned."

Arrested SIS head lays bare yet more weaknesses of the Matovič government Read more 

Coronavirus and vaccination news:

  • Scientists from the Comenius University and Slovak Academy of Sciences want to sequence 500 samples positive with coronavirus weekly to reveal a possible presence of the mutation in Slovakia.
  • Slovakia did not receive a scheduled batch of AstraZeneca vaccines because the vaccine is being checked following cases of thrombosis in patients in Austria, the State Institute for Drug Control (ŠÚKL) spokesperson said. She added that they have not noticed any suspicions of thromboembolic and cardiovascular disease.
  • Almost 22,000 vacant dates for the age group between 60 and 70 will be open for vaccination on Thursday evening, starting at 18:30.
  • Eight healthcare workers from Denmark and three from Belgium will come to help Slovakia on March 12. They should stay in a hospital in Banská Bystrica.

Travel advice:

  • All travellers arriving in Ireland with the exception of those travelling from Northern Ireland are obliged to have a negative PCR test result no older than 72 hours prior to their arrival. They are required to have such a document before boarding a plane or a ship.
  • Police strengthened controls at borders with Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic and Poland. They also monitor smaller closed border crossings; they noted several attempts to try to pass through them.

Gallery for today:

The Bratislava Self-Governing Region has opened a large-scale vaccination centre in the premises of the National Football Stadium, the biggest vaccination centre in Slovakia. It will open this weekend and will serve the people from the whole region.

Feature story for today:

For more than ten years, Tomáš Rafa has been mapping the issues of extremism, nationalism and xenophobia with his camera.

From the materials he shot in 2015 and 2016 during the migration crisis, he has now created his first feature-length documentary Refugees Are Welcome Here, which will premiere on March 14.

Man burnt alive, refugees let down: New film returns focus to migrant camps Read more 

In other news:

  • Speaker of Parliament Boris Kollár said that the purchase of Sputnik V vaccines was a masterpiece of PM Matovič. He spoke with Foreign Affairs Minister Ivan Korčok about the vaccines landing in Slovakia. Korčok was angry because of the “theatre” around the arrival of the vaccines but the Foreign affairs minister has nothing to say about the purchase of the vaccines, Kollár said. (Rádio Expres)
  • Supreme Court's 3T panel released entrepreneur Martin K. from custody on Thursday. He was charged in the 'Cattle Breeder' case. He was detained immediately again. He was detained on new charges of a 2017 offense. Two penitents testify against him. (
  • Foreign trade continued to show surplus at the beginning of this year. Slovakia posted a trade-balance surplus of 241.2 million euros in January, up €235.7 million y-o-y. According to the Statistical Office of the Slovak Republic, the automotive industry again had a positive effect on Slovakia's trade balance.

Do not miss on today:

Slovakia’s minimum wage might be actually worse than in Romania Read more  Sme Rodina conditions its stay in coalition, PM will most likely remain Read more  American game developer acquires Slovak software Read more 

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