TODAY IN SLOVAKIA

News digest: More measures should be lifted, but details remain unclear

The health minister promised to publish agreement on Sputnik V today. Cabinet approved new director of the intelligence agency.

Illustrative stock photo (Source: TASR)

This is your overview of news from Slovakia on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. This is a free-of-charge service for our readers. If you want to support us, become a subscriber and get access to more detailed news and interesting feature stories about Slovakia.

Russia will expel Slovak diplomats

Three Slovak diplomats will have to leave Moscow by May 5.

The decision comes as a response to the same step made by Slovakia on April 22, when the country’s representatives decided to expel three Russian diplomats in reaction to the suspicions that the Russian intelligence services were involved in the 2014 explosion in Vrbětice, the Czech Republic.

Slovak Foreign Affairs Minister Ivan Korčok (SaS nominee) sees the step as a reciprocal reaction to the earlier actions of Slovakia.

“Of course, it will impact the work of our embassy as we will miss the three people who need to leave the Russian Federation, but I believe we will manage the situation,” Korčok said, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

The conflict between the Czech Republic and Russia was also discussed at his April 28 meeting with Czech Foreign Affairs Minister Jakub Kulhánek. The Slovak minister reiterated that Slovakia stood on the right side in this conflict and said that the country will be interested in how the conflict between the Czech Republic develops while his Czech counterpart appreciated the support received from Bratislava.

UPDATED: Russia will expel three Slovak diplomats Read more 

Recovery plan approved

Slovakia can now send its Recovery and Resilience Plan to Brussels. The cabinet approved the document at its Wednesday session, with objections.

Education, science and research, green economy, health care, public administration and digitalisation are among the priorities of the document, and the country is expected to receive more than €6 billion to adopt necessary reforms.

Later on April 28, President Zuzana Čaputová, Speaker of Parliament Boris Kollár and PM Eduard Heger signed a letter on the recovery plan addressed to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

The deadline for submitting the final plans for all EU member states is April 30.

Cabinet approved the final recovery plan to be sent to Brussels Read more 

Further restrictions may be lifted

The cabinet also approved the new map of districts that will come into force next Monday, May 3. Only 10 districts will be placed in the dark red tier (down from the current 22), 60 53 in the red tier and nine in the light red tier (up from the current five).

Health Minister Vladimír Lengvarský (OĽaNO) has suggested that the cabinet may lift more anti-pandemic restrictions, but no concrete plans have been presented yet. The cabinet is expected to discuss them in the evening.

It is clear, though, that more districts will be allowed to open all schools since they switched to the light red tier. The cultural sector will start following its own warning system from next Monday, which will allow for some mass events to be held.

The Health Ministry will also make some changes to its registration system for vaccination, which will open to everybody older than 16 years tomorrow. People will now choose the district where they want to be vaccinated rather than a specific vaccination centre. Second, patients suffering from chronic diseases will be given preference in vaccination.

The system for picking a vaccination centre will change Read more 

More Covid and vaccination news

  • 682 out of 7,508 PCR tests carried out on April 27 came back positive, which represents 9.08 percent. Out of 121,120 antigen tests, 483 were positive (0.40 percent). 39 people died, increasing the total number of Covid deaths to 11,611.
  • The agreement between Slovakia and Russia on the Sputnik V vaccine will be published today, Health Minister Lengvarský has confirmed.
  • 600 doses of Sputnik V, which are to be tested in Russia, were taken from the Imuna Pharm plant in Šarišské Michaľany on the morning of April 28. The tests should take about a month.
  • Holidays abroad may be restored after May 15 if the pandemic situation allows it, said Martin Klus, deputy minister of the Foreign Affairs Ministry. He admitted that although the national emergency has been prolonged until May 28, it can end two weeks earlier if the situation is deemed favourable.
  • LAMP tests have been approved by the Interior Ministry to use for mass events as an alternative to PCR tests.

Picture of the day

Feature story for today

Ľubica Karvašová has served as the diplomatic advisor on EU affairs to Igor Matovič when he was prime minister and now continues her mission under his successor, Eduard Heger. She was an important member of the delegation that negotiated the re-distribution of an additional 10 million vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech in the European Union. Read her interview with the Sme daily, where she shares more about the negotiations and also explains how Slovakia's purchase of the Sputnik V vaccine influenced her during the negotiations.

The woman who negotiated additional Pfizer vaccines for Slovakia: In the EU, Sputnik is not taboo Read more 

In other news

  • The Cabinet gave a green light to the nomination of Michal Aláč to the post of the director of the Slovak Information Service (SIS) intelligence agency. His nomination still needs to be approved by the president.
  • Finance Minister Igor Matovič and OĽaNO MP György Gyimesi will travel to Hungary, where they will informally discuss the Sputnik V vaccine. Matovič would also like to discuss the Slovak-Hungarian electricity networks connection.
  • The Specialised Criminal Court sentenced Daniel Čech, former deputy of the Financial Administration who faced corruption-related charges, to three years in prison with four years probation. He also needs to pay a fine at €30,000. The ruling is valid and the court was in fact deciding on a plea bargain between Čech and the prosecutor.
  • The Specialised Criminal Court has turned down the request of Kajetán Kičura, former head of the Administration of State Material Reserves, to be released from custody. Kičura has challenged the decision.
  • Comenius University ranked 404th in the Round University Ranking (RUR) and was the only Slovak university in the ranking. It received the best score in education, where it placed 165th.
  • The tram line between Floriánske Námestie square and Špitálska Street in Bratislava will be closed in May due to the construction works on Americké Námestie square. There have been some problems with the recently reconstructed paving in the square.

Read more on Spectator.sk

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A reopened museum in Darney, France will offer a fresh look at the Czechoslovak army Read more 

If you have suggestions on how this news overview can be improved, you can reach us at editorial@spectator.sk.