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Robert Fico: Slovakia’s prime minister shot multiple times in ‘politically motivated’ attack



Robert Fico: Slovakia’s prime minister shot multiple times in ‘politically motivated’ attack


Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico was hospitalized on Wednesday after he was shot 5 occasions in an assassination try that shocked the nation.

The assault passed off after an off-site authorities assembly within the central Slovak city of Handlova. The suspected gunman was amongst a small crowd of individuals ready to greet the prime minister on the road exterior the cultural heart, the place the assembly passed off, native media reported.

Footage from the scene reveals the injured prime minister being bundled right into a automobile by his workers, earlier than it speeds away with him inside. Fico was taken to a neighborhood hospital after which transferred by helicopter to a significant trauma heart about 20 miles (30 kilometers) away in Banska Bystrica. Nobody else was injured within the assault, officers stated.

Each the nation’s Protection Minister Robert Kaliňák and Inside Minister Matúš Šutaj Eštok referred to as the taking pictures “politically motivated,” with Šutaj Eštok saying that “the suspect made the choice to do it shortly after the presidential election.”

Slovakian deputy Prime Minister Tomáš Taraba stated he believed the prime minister would survive following surgical procedure that “went properly” and was “not in a life-threatening state of affairs at this second.”

“I used to be very shocked and tried to contact folks to determine how critical his situation was,” Taraba stated in an interview with BBC’s Newshour program on Wednesday, recalling the second he heard about Fico’s taking pictures.

“Fortuitously, so far as I do know the operation went properly and I assume ultimately he’ll survive,” he stated.

Taraba advised the BBC that Fico “was closely injured” and a bullet “went by the abdomen and the second hit the joints.”

Fico is essentially the most highly effective lawmaker in Slovakia. Not like the president, whose function has restricted scope, the prime minister holds rank because the decision-making head of presidency.

The official assertion posted on Fico’s official Fb stated the PM was taken to Banska Bystrica as an alternative of the capital metropolis of Bratislava as a result of “an acute intervention” was mandatory. Handlova is about two hours’ drive from the capital Bratislava.

Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová stated the suspected gunman was detained by the police. She stated regulation enforcement businesses will launch extra data after they can and requested the general public to not unfold unconfirmed rumors.

Čaputová condemned what she referred to as a “brutal and reckless” assault on the 59-year-old politician. Talking at a information convention later within the afternoon, she stated the taking pictures was “an assault on democracy as properly.”

Slovakia’s protection and inside ministers blamed rising hate speech and division for the political environment within the nation, which they stated led to the assassination try.

Chatting with reporters in entrance of the hospital the place Fico is being handled, Protection Minister Kaliňák stated: “Hate is just not a solution to hate.” Visibly shaken and struggling for phrases at a number of moments throughout the information convention, Kaliňák stated it was “time for some folks to have a tough look into the mirror.”

“There isn’t any query that this was politically motivated. The shortcoming to just accept the selection of individuals, which some could not like … it results in this,” he stated.

Inside Minister Šutaj-Eštok referred to as for calm, saying “those that are endorsing this assault in addition to those that are calling for some form of a revenge. And I’m asking you, the media too, please, use your energy, your affect. As a result of till now, it was a few of you who sow the hate,” he stated.

Following the taking pictures, Šutaj-Eštok stated the nation is “experiencing the worst day of its democracy.”

“For the primary time within the 31 years of our democratic sovereign republic, somebody has determined to precise a political opinion not in an election however with a gun on the road,” he wrote on Fb.

Slovaks have been deeply divided over the nation’s course and place on the earth since Fico’s return to energy final 12 months. Supporters see Fico as a caring chief who has their pursuits at coronary heart; critics say he’s a populist whose pro-Russian leanings pose main dangers for the nation.

The nation has seen weeks of largely peaceable protests over his coalition authorities’s controversial home reforms. The federal government can also be attempting to close down public service broadcaster RTVS and plans to switch it with a brand new nationwide broadcaster, which might be underneath tighter management of the federal government.

Social media footage appeared to indicate the second Fico was attacked. As he approaches a crowd of individuals, a person is seen lunging in direction of Fico with what seems to be a gun pointed at him. 5 photographs are heard and Fico falls to the bottom.

An eyewitness who was on the scene the place Fico was shot stated the assault felt like a “nightmare” after listening to three “fast” photographs, fired one after the opposite as for those who have been to “throw a firecracker on the bottom.”

“I heard three photographs, it was fast one after the other like for those who throw a firecracker on the bottom,” eyewitness Lubica Valkova advised Reuters, including that “he (Fico) fell subsequent to the barrier.”

“I believe it’s a nightmare, I’ll let you know I believe I can’t get up from this,” the 66-year-old stated. “That this isn’t doable to occur in Slovakia.”

Valkova stated she had been ready a very long time to shake Fico’s hand and was taking footage of him when he walked out of the constructing in Handlova.

“At this second we heard one thing like a bang, we thought somebody made a joke and threw a firecracker on the bottom, that was my first response,” Valkova recalled.

The Slovak resident advised Reuters she had been ready from 10 a.m. native time. She claimed police didn’t search individuals who have been ready on the occasion, including that “we might have proven our empty fingers.”

In what was a surprising comeback for the controversial politician, Fico gained a 3rd time period as Slovakian prime minister final October after working a marketing campaign that criticized western help for Ukraine. As prime minister, he made a significant U-turn in Slovakia’s overseas coverage and its beforehand staunch help for Ukraine: Fico had pledged an instantaneous finish to Slovak navy help for Ukraine and promised to dam Ukraine’s NATO ambitions.

Forward of the election, Fico made no secret of his sympathies in direction of the Kremlin and blamed “Ukrainian Nazis and fascists” for frightening Vladimir Putin into launching the invasion, repeating the false narrative Russia’s president has used to justify his invasion.

Whereas in opposition, Fico grew to become a detailed ally of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, particularly when it got here to criticism of the European Union.

Domestically, his coalition authorities can also be pushing controversial reforms which have prompted weeks of large-scale peaceable protests. Makes an attempt to overtake the legal justice system have been notably controversial, as the federal government seeks to cut back penalties for corruption and has already abolished Slovakia’s particular prosecutor’s workplace, which was tasked with investigating critical and politically delicate corruption instances, together with some that concerned folks linked to Fico and his celebration SMER (“Path – Social Democracy”).

Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico attends a European Council summit in Brussels, on April 18, 2024.

Fico beforehand served as Slovakia’s prime minister for greater than a decade, first between 2006 and 2010 after which once more from 2012 to 2018. He was pressured to resign in March 2018 after weeks of mass protests over the homicide of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová. Kuciak reported on corruption among the many nation’s elite, together with folks immediately linked to Fico and his celebration SMER.

World leaders instantly condemned the assault.

Russian President Vladimir Putin stated in a telegram to Slovakia’s president that “there might be no justification for this monstrous crime” and wished Fico a speedy and full restoration.

European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen, tweeted: “I strongly condemn the vile assault on Prime Minister Robert Fico. Such acts of violence haven’t any place in our society and undermine democracy, our most treasured widespread good.”

And Hungarian Prime Minister Orban added: “I used to be deeply shocked by the heinous assault towards my buddy, Prime Minister Robert Fico. We pray for his well being and fast restoration!”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed “solidarity with the folks of Slovakia” following the “appalling” assault on Fico.

US President Joe Biden stated he was “alarmed” by the tried assassination of Fico, calling it a “horrific act of violence.”

“Jill and I are praying for a swift restoration, and our ideas are along with his household and the folks of Slovakia,” he stated in an announcement.

United Nations Secretary-Common António Guterres stated he “strongly condemns the surprising assault.”

This story has been up to date with further developments.

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