Slovak govt sworn in after vaccine crisis

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Slovakia's president has sworn in a new coalition government to end a political crisis triggered by a secret deal to buy Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine.

President Zuzana Caputova appointed the new cabinet led by Prime Minister Eduard Heger two days after the previous government of Igor Matovic resigned.

It was the first European government to collapse due to its handling of the pandemic but the move kept the same four-party coalition in power and avoided the possibility of an early election.

The crisis erupted when a secret deal came to light a month ago involving Slovakia's agreement to acquire two million doses of Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine.

The populist prime minister orchestrated the deal despite disagreement among his coalition partners.

Two of them, Freedom and Solidarity and For People, demanded his resignation in order for the coalition - which holds a comfortable parliamentary majority - to survive.

The crisis paralysed the government in one of the hardest-hit European Union countries. The nation of 5.4 million has registered 9790 deaths.