Slovakia Prime Minister Robert Fico shot, suspect charged with attempted murder


Earlier, Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok told a press conference that the man charged did not belong to any political groups.

“This is a lone wolf who had radicalised himself in the latest period after the presidential election,” he said.

Slovakian PM Robert Fico was shot several times. His alleged attacker has been charged.

Slovakian PM Robert Fico was shot several times. His alleged attacker has been charged. Credit: Getty

Two medical teams operated on him for five hours, hospital director Miriam Lapuníková told a news conference on Thursday. She described his condition as “stabilised but very serious”.

His colleagues said he was “not out of the woods” yet and the complexity of his injuries mean things would be “very difficult in the days to come”.

Fico was leaving a meeting of his government in the town of 16,000 that was once a centre of coal mining, when he exited a building to shake hands with people in the crowd.

A video showed civilians and guards detaining the suspect outside the cultural centre. A man, wearing a pale blue shirt, was wrestled to the ground, with his hands tied behind his back.

Slovakia’s Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok  speaks to the media following the attempted assassination of Robert Fico.

Slovakia’s Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok speaks to the media following the attempted assassination of Robert Fico. Credit: AP

The Slovakian police urged “respect and tolerance” after comments appeared on social media approving of the attempted assassination.

On social media, the Slovakian police said: “In the comments below the post about yesterday’s event, there are also those that approve of crime and those that spread hate.

“We evaluate these posts and if they meet the actual essence of the crime or offence, we will take action. Avoiding punishment is so simple.

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“Respect and tolerance are all you need. There are two words that everyone should follow when communicating, and not only on social networks.”

A member of NATO and the European Union, Slovakia has little history of political violence. Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden joined EU countries in expressing shock and condemnation of the shooting.

It came on the day parliament began discussing Fico’s government’s proposal to abolish the national public broadcaster, and replace it with an institution opponents fear will be far more passive towards him and his allies within the populist-nationalist coalition.

Fico, founder of the populist SMER party, began his fourth term in office in October leading a three-way Eurosceptic coalition. That grouping has been deeply at odds with liberal and pro-EU groups as it calls for tough anti-migrant measures and an end to sanctions against Russia.

His return to power sparked mass protests this year that echoed large-scale demonstrations in 2018 over the fatal shooting of a 27-year-old journalist who had been investigating alleged links between SMER and organised crime. Fico stepped down from his previous term amid those protests.

with agencies

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