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Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico Recovering Assassination Attempt

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Robert Fico
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico: Image India Express

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is no longer in critical condition after being wounded in an assassination attempt while leaving a government meeting on Wednesday, a government minister said.

The gunman shot Fico, 59, five times, leaving the prime minister in critical condition and requiring surgery hours later on Wednesday evening.

“I was very shocked… fortunately, as far as I know, the operation went well – and I guess in the end, he will survive… he’s not in a life-threatening situation right now,” Slovak Deputy Prime Minister and Environment Minister Tomas Taraba told the BBC’s Newshour.

Taraba stated that one bullet passed through Robert Fico’s stomach and another struck a joint. News outlet According to an unidentified source, Fico has recovered from surgery and is in stable condition.

Defence Minister Robert Kalinak told a press conference hours earlier that Fico had suffered “serious polytrauma” as a result of many gunshot wounds. Slovakia’s Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok previously stated that Robert Fico was in a life-threatening condition while still in the surgery room.

“This assassination (attempt) was politically motivated, and the perpetrator’s decision came soon after the presidential election,” Sutaj Estok added, referring to the April election won by a Fico ally, Peter Pellegrini.

The shooting in the central Slovak town of Handlova, which Slovak media reported was carried out by a 71-year-old man, shocked the small central European country and prompted international criticism.

Robert Fico's shooting

The moments after Slovak PM shot: Screen Capture

Prime Minister Robert Fico’s shooting condemned

Slovakia, a NATO and EU member, has a relatively short history of political violence. Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden joined Slovakia’s EU partners in voicing shock and condemnation over the shooting.

The country of 5.4 million has seen polarized political discourse in recent years, including the hard-fought presidential election last month, which helped Fico tighten his grip on power.

Fico has made rapid policy changes since taking office as Prime Minister in October of last year. Opposition critics describe it as a power grab.

His government has reduced its support for Ukraine while engaging in discussions with Russia, attempted to lower corruption punishments and dissolved a special prosecutor’s office, and is overhauling the RTVS public broadcaster amid appeals for media freedom protections.

Fico has long been skeptical of Slovakia’s major media, refusing to talk with certain outlets. Members of his party have recently criticized media and opposition actions. Following the attack, Robert Fico was brought to the hospital in Handlova, where he had been chairing a government meeting.

He was subsequently flown by helicopter to the provincial capital Banska Bystrica for emergency treatment, according to the report, adding that his condition was too bad to be sent to Bratislava.

Shooter a Former security guard

A witness told Reuters they heard bullets as Fico exited a building to shake hands with a mob of people who had gathered to welcome him. Officers then wrestled a man to the ground.

According to Slovak media, the gunman was a former shopping mall security guard, author of three poetry books, and member of the Slovak Society of Writers. According to Aktuality.sk, his son stated that his father was the lawful bearer of a weapons licence.

“I have absolutely no idea what my father intended, what he planned, or what happened,” the son stated.

According to TA3, the attack hit the Marxist prime minister in the midsection. Fico, Slovakia’s dominant force for two decades, has faced criticism for embracing a more pro-Russian posture in the Ukraine conflict.

In a telegraph to Slovakia’s President Zuzana Caputova, Putin described the shooting as a “monstrous” crime, saying, “I know Robert Fico as a courageous and strong-minded man.” I sincerely believe that these qualities would help him endure this terrible scenario.”

Biden offered US assistance to Slovakia, stating in a statement: “We condemn this horrific act of violence.”

Progressive Slovakia, Slovakia’s largest opposition party, called off a planned rally and urged caution to avoid increasing tensions. Following the attack, parliament suspended debate indefinitely.

Fico’s career has spanned the pro-European mainstream and nationalistic viewpoints opposed to EU and US policies. He has also demonstrated a readiness to modify course based on public sentiment or changing political realities.

Fico, an admirer of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has become increasingly critical of Western support for Ukraine’s struggle against invading Russian forces.

Fico was forced to quit as prime minister in 2018 following huge protests sparked by the contract killing of Jan Kuciak, a journalist who was exposing high-level corruption. These protests exacerbated long-standing social tensions in Slovakia.

Source: Reuters

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