News2020.03.05 14:03

PM's adviser steps down over coronavirus communication

BNS 2020.03.05 14:03

Skirmantas Malinauskas, an adviser to the prime minister leading the government's coronavirus communication group, is stepping down over a row with the health minister.

Malinauskas is quitting both the communication group and Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis' team, he said.

Read more: Coronavirus update: no new cases in Lithuania

Malinauskas told reporters on Thursday that Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga had asked the prime minister to remove him from the government's communication group on the coronavirus situation.

“The minister informed me and said he had informed the prime minister, too, that I was being dismissed and that he wanted someone else to head the public information group,” the adviser said. “I understand that it is up to [Veryga] as the head of the coordination group to take such decisions.”

“I regard this as [a sign of] distrust and I am stepping down as the prime minister's adviser, too,” he added.

Veryga, who heads the State Emergency Operations Centre set up last week to deal with the coronavirus threat, says he has asked Skvernelis to remove Malinauskas as head of the coronavirus information team because the adviser did not coordinate communication with the health minister.

“Communication has to be coordinated with the head of the emergency operations, but it was not coordinated with me, which means that I could not properly respond to certain public messages that were released without my knowledge,” Veryga said.

Read more: Lithuanian parliament cancels Independence Day events over coronavirus

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