Slovakia PM Robert Fico in Life-Threatening Condition After Assassination Attempt

Wed May 15 2024
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BRATISLAVA: Slovakia Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot multiple times and rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries on Wednesday after a cabinet meeting, officials said, in an attack condemned by world leaders.

Fico, a populist leader accused of being Russian-friendly, has been prime minister since last year. The government announced the assassination attempt on Fico through a social media post. “Today, after the government meeting in Handlova, there was an assassination attempt on the Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, Robert Fico”, the government said in a post.

The government stated that he was being transported by helicopter to Banska Bystrica in a critical condition due to the severity of his injuries. Reports indicate that Fico was shot multiple times and is currently receiving treatment at a vascular surgery clinic in a local hospital. The suspected gunman has been detained by the police.

The shocking attack on Fico has elicited widespread condemnation, with Slovak President Zuzana Caputova expressing her utter shock and strong condemnation of the “brutal and reckless” assault. Leaders from neighboring countries, including Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, have also expressed solidarity with Fico and wished him a speedy recovery.

Fico, a populist leader known for his Kremlin-friendly stance, has been serving as Slovakia’s Prime Minister since last year. His tenure has been marked by controversies, including remarks that strained relations with neighboring Ukraine and sparked mass protests over controversial legislative changes, such as the media law.

Following the shooting, MP Lubos Blaha from Fico’s Smer party blamed liberal media and progressive politicians for the attack, accusing them of fostering hatred that led to the assassination attempt on Fico’s life.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on X he was “shocked to hear this awful news”. Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda called for a “thorough investigation” and wished Fico “a fully recovery”.

As well as his current stint as premier, Fico also headed the government in 2006-10 and 2012-18.

Since he was elected last October, Fico has made a string of remarks that have soured ties between Slovakia and neighbouring Ukraine. He has notably questioned Ukraine’s sovereignty and called for a compromise with Russia.

After he was elected, Slovakia stopped sending weapons to Ukraine. He pledged during the electoral campaign not to provide Kyiv with “a single bullet”.

He also sparked mass protests with controversial changes, including a media law that critics say will undermine the impartiality of public television and radio.

At a press conference following the shooting, MP Lubos Blaha from Fico’s Smer party lashed out against his critics. “You, the liberal media, and progressive politicians are to blame. Robert Fico is fighting for his life because of your hatred,” Blaha said.

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