LAST UPDATE APR 8, 2021 AT 19:08

UPDATED: Finance Minister Matovič flew to Moscow for Sputnik negotiations

Russians want the vaccine back, citing contract violations.

Igor MatovičIgor Matovič (Source: SITA)

Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) took an unexpected Sputnik-related trip to Moscow on Thursday, April 8.

Matovič, who stepped down as prime minister and took the post of the finance minister one week before the trip, wrote on his Facebook that he was meeting Kirill Dmitriev in Russia. Dmitriev is the representative of the investment fund who negotiated the purchase of the Sputnik V vaccine in February 2021 with Matovič, back then as prime minister.

“From the bottom of my heart I condemn any punitive and systematic efforts to prevent Sputnik V from being used in Slovakia, and will do everything to make them ultimately fail and make sure one million people in Slovakia can finally start getting vaccinated with Sputnik V,” Matovič wrote.

The first batch of 200,000 vaccines from Russia landed in Slovakia on March 1, igniting a coalition crisis that resulted in a recent government reshuffle. Matovič was vastly criticised for welcoming the vaccines at Košice Airport. Foreign Affairs Minister Ivan Korčok then said that Sputnik V was a tool of a hybrid war.

The national medicines agency claims the batches brought to Slovakia are not the same as those under review in the Lancet journal, and has not issued its approval for the vaccine, citing the lack of data. Neither have the vaccines been approved by the European Medicines Agency.

After Matovič flew to Moscow, the Russian Direct Investment Fund tweeted that they requested the Slovak government to return the vaccine due to "multiple contract violations".

Only the name Sputnik fits

Six weeks have passed since the delivery of Sputnik V and vaccination with it has not been launched. The delivered batch underwent vaccine lab tests. The State Institute for Drug Control (ŠÚKL), the Slovak national medicines agency, stated this week that it could not make a conclusive decision on Sputnik V vaccine's safety and efficacy, due to the lack of data the Russian producer allegedly failed to provide.

Chair of ŠÚKL, Zuzana Baťová, said that the Sputnik V producer has not provided about 80 percent of the data vital for the evaluation of the vaccines. ŠÚKL still recommends using only registered vaccines in Slovakia, the TASR newswire reported.

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