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Monthly Digest

April 2021

Czech Republic

Covid cases in the Czech Republic continued to fall, leading to the announcement of initial loosening of restrictions.

Revelations about Russian involvement in a massive explosion at an arms depot in Vrbětice in 2014 prompted the expulsion of 81 diplomats from the Russian Embassy in Prague, and tit-for-tat expulsions of Czech diplomats in Moscow. Other EU countries joined the Czech Republic in expelling Russian diplomats.

The Czech procurement of Sputnik V was taken off the table following the Vrbětice revelations, despite Acting Foreign Minister Jan Hamáček having been due to fly to Moscow to discuss the purchase.

Polls continued to show the Pirati+STAN coalition ahead in the polls going into October’s national election.

Slovakia

The restructuring of the Slovak government following Igor Matovič’s resignation saw leadership assumed by Eduard Heger.

The controversial course of Sputnik V approval in Slovakia continued, with Slovak regulators refusing to approve the jab. Covid vaccine scepticism in Slovakia gave increasing cause for concern. With a large number of doses expected to arrive in May, the lack of people coming forward for vaccines led to concerns that the country would nonetheless fail to achieve collective immunity.

Hungary

Hungary became the country with the world’s worst Covid-19 death rate per capita, despite an EU-leading vaccine rollout using multiple Eastern jabs.

The country entered a full lockdown – but by the end of the month, moves were already being taken to ease restrictions as case numbers started to decrease.

Poland

Poland supported the Czech Republic in its response to the Vrbětice revelations.

A sharp rise in Covid cases at the end of March was followed by a steep decline as new lockdown measures came into effect. Nonetheless, the country became one of the world’s worst-affected countries by the virus.

The EU’s pandemic recovery fund was ratified, following a deal struck between the leading PiS party and the Left opposition group at the end of the month.