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PRAGUE (Sputnik) – Slovak Health Minister Marek Krajci on Friday announced his readiness to step down effective immediately after igniting backlash from the country’s ruling coalition for ordering Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine.

The crisis emerged in late February when Prime Minister Igor Matovic purchased 2 million doses of the vaccine without EU authorization and in spite of opposition from his coalition partner, the For the People party. Krajci, from the populist OLaNO party, said his resignation was a condition of the centre-right coalition parties, For the People and Freedom and Solidarity, for remaining in the government.

Sputnik / Magda Ghibelli

“I do not want the date of my resignation from the post of minister to become a reason for the fall of the government,” Krajci told reporters.

Earlier this month, Slovakia received the first batch of the Sputnik V vaccine. The country has been under a state of health emergency since October 2020. Last week, the authorities updated the list of COVID-19 restrictions, adding a curfew from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m (7:00 to 00:00 GMT), and the mandatory wearing of respirators in public places.

In December, the government kicked off a mass vaccination campaign, using vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca, but later encountered delays and other issues with the shipments of the vaccines.

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