INTERNATIONAL

Assassination attempt leaves Slovak PM Fico in “life-threatening” condition; he is battling for his life

After an attempted assassination on Wednesday while he was speaking with the public following a government meeting, Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico—who has pledged his nation in central Europe to take a neutral stand on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict—suffered “life-threatening” injuries and is currently “fighting for his life” in a hospital.

Video from the event in Handlova town, some 180 km northeast of Bratislava, shows that Fico was shaking hands with supporters over a metal fence when he was shot five times by an unknown shooter. The assailant was pulled to the ground by his security guards and onlookers as he fainted and was rushed to his vehicle.

Fico,59, was shot many times, according to RT, which quoted Slovakia’s TA3 News.

Fico was shot “multiple times,” and according to the Prime Minister’s office, his condition is “life-threatening.” From Handlova, he was evacuated to a hospital in Banska, a neighboring city.

Robert Kalinak, the minister of defense, told reporters late on Wednesday that the prime minister was still undergoing surgery and was battling for his life.

According to the BBC, he said that the “situation is bad” and that his health is “really serious”.

Kalinak said that because “the situation is really complicated now” and the operation has been ongoing for three and a half hours, any specific medical information would be provided later.

According to RT, Labour Minister Erik Tomas earlier said that Fico was still undergoing surgery and that the procedure would take a while since the prime minister had many organ damage.

An assassination attempt, according to a spokeswoman for the Slovak Interior Ministry.

According to Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok, the decision was “born right after the presidential election” and the assassination attempt had political motivations. For the assault, he laid the blame on “social media hate”.

Juraj Cintula, 71, a poet, founder of the Slovak Association of Writers, and member of the opposition Progressive Slovakia party, was named by the Slovak media as the attacker. Juraj used his licensed firearms during the crime.

President Zuzana Caputova wished PM Fico “a lot of strength at this critical moment” and denounced the “brutal and reckless” assault on him. She and the PM have battled over his Ukraine policy.

The attempt on the PM’s life was described as “an unprecedented threat to Slovak democracy” by Fico’s ally and incoming president-elect Peter Pellegrini, who will replace Caputova in a month.

“If we express differing political views with guns in the squares, and not in the polling stations, we threaten everything that we have built together during the 31 years of Slovak sovereignty,” he said in a news release.

Other world leaders conveyed their amazement at the information.

“Deeply shocked by the heinous attack against my friend, Prime Minister Robert Fico,” said Viktor Orban, the prime minister of Hungary.

Petr Fiala, his colleague from the Czech Republic, called the incident “shocking” and wished Fico a speedy recovery.

According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, he was “indignant” to learn of the “heinous” attempt on Fico’s life. “I am aware of Robert Fico as a brave and tenacious individual. I sincerely hope that these attributes will enable him to weather this trying time,” Putin said in a statement, as cited by RT.

The “horrific act of violence” was denounced by US President Joe Biden, who also extended Slovakia’s help.

According to his spokeswoman, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also vehemently denounced the horrifying act.

In October of last year, Fico, the leader of the left-leaning Smer-SD party, returned to his position as prime minister following two terms, from 2006 to 2010 and from 2012 to 2018. He urged for a diplomatic resolution between Russia and Ukraine and ended the prior strategy of providing military support to Kiev. He was at conflict with other European nations because of this, with the exception of Hungary, which takes a similar path.

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