Slovak PM shot after govt meeting, facing life-threatening injuries

Published May 15, 2024
Security officers move Slovak PM Robert Fico in a car after a shooting incident, after a Slovak government meeting in Handlova, Slovakia, May 15. — Reuters
Security officers move Slovak PM Robert Fico in a car after a shooting incident, after a Slovak government meeting in Handlova, Slovakia, May 15. — Reuters
A person is detained after the shooting of Slovak PM Robert Fico in Handlova, Slovakia on May 15. — Reuters
A person is detained after the shooting of Slovak PM Robert Fico in Handlova, Slovakia on May 15. — Reuters

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico suffered life-threatening injuries when he was shot and wounded in an attempted assassination on Wednesday, the government office said. Fico, 59, was shot and hit in the abdomen.

A reporter from the Dennik N daily saw the premier being lifted into a car by security guards and reported that police had detained the suspected gunman. “We confirm the attack on the prime minister,” police spokesman Matej Neumann told AFP.

A Reuters witness heard several shots fired after the meeting in Handlova northeast of the capital Bratislava. Police detained a man and security officials pushed someone into a car and drove off, the witness said.

Similarly, broadcaster TA3 reported that four shots were fired and that the leftist prime minister had been hit in the abdomen.

The wounded prime minister was rushed to a hospital in Handlova for treatment and was referred to the capital Bratislava, the hospital director told AFP.

“Mr Fico was brought into our hospital and he was treated at our vascular surgery clinic,” hospital director Marta Eckhardtova said, adding: “The prime minister was later transported from our hospital, he is on his way to Bratislava. “

The Slovak emergency service dispatched a helicopter to a 59-year-old man in Handlova after receiving information that he had been shot, it said in a post on Facebook, adding that the action was still underway.

The Slovak government said on Fico’s official Facebook profile that he had been shot “multiple times”.

“He is currently being transported by helicopter to Banska Bystrica in a life-threatening condition,” the government said in a statement, calling the attack an “assassination attempt”.

Following the shooting, Slovakia’s biggest opposition party called off a planned protest against government public broadcaster reforms set for Wednesday evening.

Robert Fico is a former Communist Party member who has been accused of swaying his country’s foreign policy in favour of the Kremlin.

Fico, whose Smer-SD party won the general election last September, is a four-time prime minister and a political veteran whose time in power has been marred by corruption scandals and controversial reforms.

During his current term, Fico has garnered worldwide attention after a series of inflammatory comments about Ukraine, calling for Kyiv to cede territory to Moscow to end the war — something Ukraine has repeatedly ruled out.

Condemnations

Slovak President Zuzana Caputova said she was “utterly shocked by today’s brutal and reckless attack on Slovakia’s prime minister … which I condemn in (the) strongest possible terms.”

The EU’s top two chiefs also condemned the attack on the Slovak prime minister.

“I strongly condemn the vile attack on Prime Minister Robert Fico,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on X. “Such acts of violence have no place in our society and undermine democracy, our most precious common good. My thoughts are with PM Fico, his family,” she said.

European Council President Charles Michel followed up on X saying he was “shocked at the news”.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on X that he was “deeply shocked” by the news of the cowardly attack on Slovakian Prime Minister Fico“. He also called for an end to “violence … in European politics”.

Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg said he was “shocked and appalled by the shooting” of Fico.

“I wish him strength for a speedy recovery. My thoughts are with Robert Fico, his loved ones, and the people of Slovakia,” Stoltenberg wrote on X.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the “appalling” shooting of Fico and wished him a speedy recovery.

“We strongly condemn this act of violence against our neighbouring partner state’s head of government. Every effort should be made to ensure that violence does not become the norm in any country, form, or sphere,” he said in a message on social media.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said in a statement, “I learned with deep shock the news of the cowardly attack.”

She stressed the Italian government’s “strongest condemnation of all forms of violence and attacks on the cardinal principles of democracy and freedom”.

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