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Slovak PM Fico 'stable but serious' as 'lone wolf' attacker charged



Authorities charged an alleged gunman on Thursday with the attempted murder of Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, saying the shooting was sparked by the election win last month of a Fico ally.

The premier's condition has stabilized but was still "very serious" a day after the violence. 

"This is a lone wolf whose actions were accelerated after the presidential elections since he was dissatisfied with its outcome," interior minister Matus Sutaj Estok said. Slovak president-elect Peter Pellegrini, the Fico ally who won April's vote, called for calm, urging political parties to halt campaigning for June's EU parliament election. 

The leader of the biggest opposition party, centrist Progressive Slovakia, announced his grouping had already done so.

Slovakia's politics have been divided for years between pro-Europeans and nationalist-leaning camps.

Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot multiple times on Wednesday. /RTVS/AFP
Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot multiple times on Wednesday. /RTVS/AFP

Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot multiple times on Wednesday. /RTVS/AFP

Pellegrini, Fico's ally who will assume office in June, said Slovakia should avoid "further confrontation" in a joint statement with outgoing President Zuzana Caputova.

The two politicians represent rival political camps, but Caputova said they wanted "to send a signal of understanding" as she urged an end to "the vicious circle of hatred."

Surgeons spent hours in the operating theater, battling to save the 59-year-old leader after the shooting, which happened on Wednesday afternoon as Fico spoke to members of the public after a meeting. Deputy prime minister Robert Kalinak said doctors stabilized Fico's condition, "but unfortunately, his condition is still very serious as the injuries are complicated."

Footage of events just after the shooting showed security agents grabbing a wounded Fico from the ground and hustling him into a black car. Other police handcuffed a man on the pavement nearby.

Fico, whose party won the general election last September, is a four-time prime minister and political veteran.


Unprecedented attack

Slovakian media reported that the suspected gunman was a 71-year-old writer. The alleged suspect's son told a Slovak news site he had "absolutely no idea what father was thinking, what he was planning, why it happened."

Political analyst Miroslav Radek said the attack risked causing "further radicalization of individuals and politicians in Slovakia." He added: "I am afraid that this attack may not have been the last."

The shooting came just weeks ahead of June's European parliament elections in which far-right parties are expected to make gains. 


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Fico's career

As well as his current stint as premier, Fico headed the government in 2006-10 and 2012-18. He was forced to resign in 2018.

But he came back again. Since returning to office last October, Fico has made a string of remarks that have soured ties between Slovakia and neighboring Ukraine.

After he was elected, Slovakia stopped sending weapons to Ukraine. He also sparked mass protests with controversial changes.

At a press conference following the shooting, MP Lubos Blaha from Fico's party hit out against the prime minister's critics.

"You, the liberal media, and progressive politicians are to blame. Robert Fico is fighting for his life because of your hatred," Blaha said.

Slovak PM Fico 'stable but serious' as 'lone wolf' attacker charged

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Source(s): AFP
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