Slovakia PM Robert Fico in ‘very serious’ condition after being shot

Slovakia PM Robert Fico in ‘very serious’ condition after being shot

Deputy PM Kalinak says Fico is stable post-surgery after being shot five times in an attempted assassination.

Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico is stable but his condition remains “very serious”, his deputy has said, after an assassination attempt that shocked the country and drew global condemnation.

Fico, 59, was shot five times in the central town of Handlova on Wednesday. He was in critical condition and underwent several hours of emergency surgery.

“During the night, doctors managed to stabilise the patient’s condition,” Deputy Prime Minister Robert Kalinak said on Thursday.

“Unfortunately, the condition is still very serious as the injuries are complicated,” said Kalinak, who is also the defence minister.

Miriam Lapunikova, the director of the FD Roosevelt University Hospital in Banska Bystrica where Fico was being treated, said he “had multiple gunshot wounds, the consequences of which will affect his recovery”.

“At this point, his condition has stabilised, but is truly very serious, and therefore he will remain in the intensive care unit,” she added.

Slovak media reported that the alleged attacker, a 71-year-old writer, had been charged with attempted murder.

Environment Minister Tomas Taraba told the BBC on Thursday that the operation had “gone well”. He said one bullet went through Fico’s stomach, and the second hit a joint during the attack after Fico left a government meeting.

A state security council meeting is scheduled for later in the day.

President Zuzana Caputova called for a calming of political tensions and said she will invite all parliamentary party leaders for a joint meeting.

“Let’s step out of the vicious circle of hatred and mutual accusations,” she said on Thursday. “What happened yesterday was an individual act but the tense atmosphere of hatred has been our collective work.”

The shooting was “politically motivated”, Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok said on Wednesday.

“This assassination [attempt] was politically motivated, and the perpetrator’s decision was born closely after the presidential election,” Sutaj Estok said, referring to an April election won by Fico’s ally, Peter Pellegrini.

Pellegrini, the president-elect, described the attack as an “unprecedented threat to Slovak democracy”.

“If we express other political opinions in squares, and not in polling stations, we are jeopardising everything that we have built together over 31 years of Slovak sovereignty,” Pellegrini said.

On Thursday, Pellegrini called on all parties to temporarily suspend or reduce campaigning before European Parliament elections scheduled for June.

A person is detained after shooting incident of Slovak PM Robert Fico,
A man is detained after Slovak PM Robert Fico was shot multiple times, in Handlova, Slovakia [File: Radovan Stoklasa/Reuters]

Following the attack, Fico was rushed to a hospital in Handlova but was transferred by helicopter to the regional capital, Banska Bystrica, for urgent treatment.

Russia said it considered the attack “absolutely unacceptable”.

“This is really a great tragedy,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday.

Fico’s European counterparts, including Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, condemned the shooting and wished him a complete recovery.

The country of 5.4 million has seen polarised political debate in recent years, including last year’s presidential election that helped Fico tighten his grip on power.

Since returning as prime minister last October, his government has scaled back support for Ukraine while opening up dialogue with Russia, looked to lessen punishments for corruption, and is revamping the RTVS public broadcaster despite a call to protect media freedoms.



Al Jazeera and news agencies

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