How Robert Fico used Covid and Ukraine to realize energy in Slovakia

Robert Fico’s capacity to reinvent himself has saved him on the prime of Slovakia’s politics regardless of repeated scandals.

Now surgeons are battling to save lots of his life after an assassination try that adopted a authorities assembly in a small city.

His most up-to-date fall from grace was in 2018, when mass protests pressured his resignation within the wake of the homicide of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée.

Turning to the then president Andrej Kiska – certainly one of many political enemies – he vowed to return to politics.

  • Creator, Rob Cameron
  • Position, BBC Prague Correspondent

“I’m not going wherever. Don’t fear,” he mentioned.

Initially surprised by the sudden fall – and swiftly changed as PM by his get together protégé Peter Pellegrini – Fico gave the impression to be heading for the political wilderness.

After a humiliating election defeat for his or her leftist Smer get together, Pellegrini deserted him, forming a brand new centre-left get together, Hlas.

Video caption, Slovak PM Robert Fico carried to automobile after being shot

However the Covid disaster created recent alternative for Robert Fico. He started showing at mass demonstrations in opposition to the centre-right authorities’s restrictions to counter the pandemic.

These demonstrations grew to become more and more unruly and ugly. Fico stood on the head of them, rousing the offended crowds with megaphone in hand, even being arrested at one level.

As Covid light from the headlines, he discovered a brand new trigger – Ukraine.

The September 2023 election was received – partly – on a pledge to ship “not yet another spherical of ammunition” to Kyiv, promising to reverse the Slovak authorities’s coverage of arming Ukraine with artillery shells, heavy weapons and even fighter jets.

And after he received these elections, forming a coalition with Peter Pellegrini – the person who had betrayed him – as nicely the ultra-nationalist Slovak Nationwide Social gathering – he doubled down on that coverage.

In February because the world marked the battle’s second anniversary, Mr Fico reiterated his opposition to the west’s coverage of arming Kyiv.

There was no army answer to the battle, he mentioned, and sending weapons to Ukraine would solely fill extra graves within the nation’s cemeteries.

Russia would by no means relinquish Crimea, or the components of the jap Donbas area it has taken, and as a substitute Kyiv ought to lay down its arms and sue for peace, he mentioned.

Vladimir Putin, Mr Fico mentioned, had been “wrongly demonised” by the west.

Throughout the six months he has been in workplace this time, he and his coalition allies have taken a sledgehammer to Slovakia’s establishments.

Reform of the felony justice system included abolition of the Particular Prosecutor’s Workplace, arrange 20 years in the past to investigation critical crime and corruption.

The workplace had been overseeing the Kuciak murders, and 6 years on, securing a conviction now appears extra distant than ever.

Picture caption, “Fingers off RTVS” – protesters are offended at Mr Fico’s plans to close the nationwide broadcaster

The nationwide broadcaster – RTVS – is to be shut down in June and changed with a brand new physique with a brand new director.

Mr Fico says RTVS can’t be goal as it’s in everlasting battle together with his authorities, and this ‘unsustainable’ scenario can solely be rectified by changing it.

Observers – together with the opposition, the European Fee and the European Broadcasting Union – have warned the transfer would strike a blow for media freedom in Slovakia.

Parliament had begun debating the proposal in earnest on Wednesday morning when information of the capturing broke. An opposition demonstration in opposition to the proposal was rapidly cancelled.

Media experiences that the gunman – reported to be a 71-year-old man from southern Slovakia – had been motivated by the transfer to close down RTVS haven’t been confirmed. In the meantime a Hungarian investigative journalist mentioned the person had beforehand been related to a pro-Russian paramilitary group.

The person’s identification is being reported broadly by the Slovak media, however his motive stays unclear.

Nonetheless if 59-year-old political veteran Mr Fico pulls via, he’ll seemingly draw new power from this try on his life.

Amid the requires calm and an finish to the hateful rhetoric, his closest political allies are already laying the blame squarely on the liberal opposition and the media.

One coalition ally – deputy prime minister Andrej Danko – mentioned the nation was heading for “political warfare”.

The political temperature has definitely risen in Slovakia since he shaped what’s his fourth administration in October.

However this capturing propels the nation into wholly uncharted territory.

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