News digest: Matovič sides with the Russian vaccine producer against the Slovak regulator

The Heger cabinet is now complete. Progressives make their way to parliament.

Finance Minister Igor Matovič (centre) informs of his trip to Moscow on April 9, 2021. (Source: TASR)

This is the Friday, April 9, 2021 edition of Today in Slovakia. Learn about politics, business, and other notable events of the day in Slovakia in less than five minutes. If you like what we are doing and want to support good journalism, buy our online subscription. Thank you.

Check out the Spectacular Slovakia roundup for weekend reading tips

Elvis, Charlie Chaplin and other Roma tour the east of Slovakia Read more 

Russians want Sputnik V back

Following Thursday's trip to Moscow concerning the supplies of the Russian vaccine to Slovakia, Finance Minister Igor Matovič confirmed that the Russian side has withdrawn from the contract and is demanding that Slovakia returns the batch of 200,000 doses delivered in early March.

He repeated the accusations that the Sputnik V producer launched against the Slovak national drug agency on Twitter.

Later on April 9, Matovič travelled to Hungary to discuss the vaccine. After the meeting, Hungarian Foreign Affairs Minister Péter Szijjártó said that the Russian vaccine delivered to Slovakia will be tested in Hungary, upon the request of Slovakia. Matovič told him that Slovakia does not have the appropriate laboratories to test the vaccine.

The Matovič government purchased the vaccines in a fast and secretive manner, and the circumstances of the procurement process continue to raise serious questions. There was no tender, which is not required in this case as the contract was made in a state of national emergency. The contract has not been published.

Matovič: Russians want Sputnik back, but door is still open Read more 

Opinion: Matovič undermines the coherence and consistency of Slovak foreign policy

If you look at how the Russian authorities instrumentalise the Sputnik V vaccine, including spreading chaos and mistrust in institutions, dividing European society, the EU countries and driving a wedge between EU member states and EU institutions, I think the tool of hybrid warfare is quite a precise label for what it actually is, says Pavel Havlíček of the Prague-based Association for International Affairs (AMO).

InterviewMatovič fell into a trap carefully staged by Russia Read more 

State will be responsible for using unregistered vaccines

President Zuzana Čaputová signed into law a package of amendments to the health-related legislation on April 9.

The changes include:

  • The state will take responsibility for people who decide to be vaccinated with an unlicensed vaccine, until it is registered by the European Medicines Agency.
  • All patients who have recovered from Covid-19 will be entitled to a medical spa treatment, following a recommendation from their doctor. This includes patients hospitalised in intensive care and anaesthesiology departments and recovered patients who suffer from respiratory, nerve-muscle and movement problems and mental and circulatory system diseases.
  • People who do not have public health insurance, including vulnerable groups (like homeless people) will be entitled to the vaccination. This also includes foreigners living in Slovakia, more specifically foreigners with subsidiary protection, foreigners with tolerated residence and other foreigners (conditions to be specified).
  • People who received medical education outside the EU member states will have easier access to internship in medical facilities. This includes not only doctors, but also nurses and midwives. At the same time, the internship of foreign medical professionals will be extended from 90 to 180 days.
  • General practitioners will be able to prescribe some medicines for chronically ill patients.
  • It will be possible for people who lack professional training to use quick nasal tests.

Picture of the day

Slovak winemakers regularly win international awards for their wines, but top producers are warning their industry could collapse completely as they struggle with imports of cheap wine, a lack of state support and the Covid-19 pandemic. (Source: Courtesy of the FB's site of Račanský Vinohradnícky Chodník)

Slovak winemakers regularly win international awards for their wines, but top producers are warning their industry could collapse completely as they struggle with imports of cheap wine, a lack of state support and the Covid-19 pandemic. Read more in a report by Jana Liptáková.

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