Man accused of capturing Slovak prime minister had “political motivation,” minister says

The Slovak inside minister stated Thursday {that a} “lone wolf” has been charged within the capturing that significantly wounded Prime Minister Robert Fico and prompted soul-searching amongst leaders within the deeply divided society.

Fico was in critical however steady situation Thursday, a hospital official stated, after the populist chief was hit a number of instances in an try on his life that shook the small nation and reverberated throughout the continent weeks earlier than European elections.

The tried assassination has shocked the small central European nation, with many blaming the assault partially on excessive political polarization that has divided the nation.

Inside Minister Matus Sutaj Estok stated Wednesday that an preliminary investigation discovered “a transparent political motivation” behind the assault on Fico whereas he was attending a authorities assembly in a former coal mining city. Nonetheless, he stated Thursday that the suspect charged was a lone wolf who “didn’t belong to any political teams.”

The minister didn’t specify what the motivation was. Fico has lengthy been a divisive determine in Slovakia and past, and his return to energy final yr on a pro-Russian, anti-American message led to even larger worries amongst fellow European Union members that he would abandon his nation’s pro-Western course.

FILE PHOTO: Slovak PM Robert Fico visits Berlin
Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico speaks throughout a press convention in Berlin, Germany, Jan. 24, 2024.

Nadja Wohlleben/REUTERS

The try on Fico’s life got here at a time of excessive division in Slovakia, as 1000’s of demonstrators have repeatedly rallied within the capital and across the nation to protest his insurance policies. It additionally comes simply forward of June elections for the European Parliament.

Slovakia’s outgoing and subsequent presidents — political rivals — appeared collectively in an attraction for Slovaks to beat their more and more tense political variations for the great of the nation.

Outgoing President Zuzana Caputova, an opponent of Fico, stated Thursday that the heads of the nation’s political events would meet in an effort to convey calm, saying the assault was a mirrored image of an more and more polarized society.

“Allow us to step out of the vicious circle of hatred and mutual accusations,” Caputova stated at a information convention within the capital Bratislava. “What occurred yesterday was a person act. However the tense ambiance of hatred was our collective work.”

President-Elect Peter Pellegrini referred to as on political events to droop or cut back their campaigns for European elections, which will probably be held June 6-9, to stop “stand-offs and mutual accusations between politicians.”

“If there’s something that the individuals of Slovakia urgently want right this moment, it’s at the very least primary settlement and unity among the many Slovak political illustration. And if not consensus, then please, at the very least civilized methods of discussing amongst one another,” Pelligrini stated.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is transported from a helicopter on a stretcher by medics and his safety element after being shot. 


Fico’s authorities, elected final September, has triggered controversy by halting arms deliveries to Ukraine, and has plans to amend the penal code to get rid of a particular anti-graft prosecutor and to take management of public media. His critics fear that he’ll lead Slovakia — a nation of 5.4 million that belongs to NATO — down a extra autocratic path.

Zuzana Eliasova, a resident of the capital Bratislava, stated the assault on Fico was a “shock” to the nation and an assault on democracy at a time when political tensions have been already operating excessive.

“I imagine that lots of people and even the entire society will look into their conscience, as a result of the polarization right here has been enormous amongst all completely different components of society,” she stated.

Docs carried out a five-hour operation on Fico, who was initially reported to be in life-threatening situation, in line with director of the F.D. Roosevelt Hospital in Banska Bystrica, Miriam Lapunikova. He’s being handled in an intensive care unit.

5 pictures have been fired exterior a cultural heart within the city of Handlova, practically 85 miles northeast of the capital, authorities officers stated.

Slovak police have offered no info on the identification of the shooter. However unconfirmed media experiences recommended he was a 71-year-old retiree who was generally known as an beginner poet, and should have beforehand labored as a safety guard at a mall within the nation’s southwest.

U.S. official unpacks Slovak chief capturing, Israel arms switch and extra

Slovakia’s Safety Council was set to satisfy within the capital of Bratislava on Thursday to debate the state of affairs, a authorities workplace stated, including {that a} cupboard assembly would comply with.

Fico returned to energy in Slovakia final yr, having beforehand served twice as prime minister. He and his Smer get together have most frequently been described as left-populist, although he has additionally been in comparison with politicians on the fitting just like the nationalist prime minister of neighboring Hungary, Viktor Orbán.

Fico’s comeback triggered concern amongst his critics that he and his get together — which had lengthy been tainted by scandal — would lead Slovakia away from the Western mainstream. He promised a troublesome stance towards migration and non-governmental organizations and campaigned towards LGBTQ+ rights.

Regardless of the controversy surrounding Fico’s management, condemnation of the assault got here from each his allies and adversaries. On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin despatched a message to President Caputova, expressing his help and wishing the prime minister a quick and full restoration.

“This atrocious crime can’t be justified,” Putin stated within the message launched by the Kremlin. “I do know Robert Fico as a brave and strong-willed individual. I actually hope these private qualities will assist him overcome this harsh state of affairs.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy additionally denounced the violence towards a neighboring nation’s head of presidency.

“Each effort ought to be made to make sure that violence doesn’t grow to be the norm in any nation, type or sphere,” he stated.

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