Slovakia’s PM Fico still in intensive care after assassination bid, govt says

Published May 17, 2024
Slovak Defence Minister Robert Kalinak speaks to members of the media outside FD Roosevelt University Hospital in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia on May 17. — Reuters
Slovak Defence Minister Robert Kalinak speaks to members of the media outside FD Roosevelt University Hospital in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia on May 17. — Reuters

Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico remains in intensive care, the government said on Friday, two days after he was shot at close range in an assassination attempt that stunned the small Central European nation and drew international condemnation.

Earlier, local media reported that Slovak doctors would meet on Monday to assess whether Fico, who underwent hours of surgery, could be transported to the capital Bratislava from the central city of Banska Bystrica where he is being treated.

In its short statement, the government said further information on Fico’s health would be made public “when the situation allows”. The hospital did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.

Slovakia’s President-elect Peter Pellegrini, a close ally of the prime minister, paid a brief visit to the hospital on Thursday and said Fico had been able to speak a little.

Slovakian police have charged a man with attempted murder. Local news outlets say he is a 71-year-old former security guard at a shopping mall and the author of three collections of poetry. There has been no official confirmation of his identity.

Police have conducted an hours-long search of the suspect’s home in the central town of Levice with him present, according to TV Markiza. He was wearing a bulletproof vest and helmet and carried a plastic bag and other items. Armed police, also wearing bulletproof vests, patrolled outside his home.

The shooting was the first major assassination attempt on a European political leader for more than 20 years and has drawn international condemnation. Political analysts and lawmakers say it has exposed an increasingly febrile and polarised political climate in both Slovakia and across Europe.

‘Between Life and Death’

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told public radio on Friday that Fico remained “between life and death”.

Even if Fico recovers, Orban added, he would be out of work for months at a critical time in the run-up to European Parliament elections due early next month.

“We are facing an election that will decide not just about members of European Parliament but along with the US election can determine the course of war and peace in Europe,” Orban said.

Fico and Orban have both criticised the supply of Western weapons to Ukraine and the imposition of sanctions on Russia.

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