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Robert Fico: Slovakia’s prime minister ‘fighting for his life’ after being shot multiple times



Robert Fico: Slovakia’s prime minister ‘fighting for his life’ after being shot multiple times


Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico is “combating for his life” in hospital, a authorities official warned Wednesday, after he was shot 5 occasions in an assassination try.

Slovakian Protection Minister Robert Kaliňák mentioned that Fico had been in surgical procedure for 3 and a half hours. “His medical state is admittedly very complicated,” he instructed reporters, including that it was “completely clear” the assassination try was a “political assault.”

“We’re singularly targeted on the well being of Robert Fico. And we hope he can be robust sufficient to tug by way of,” Kaliňák mentioned.

Inside Minister Matúš Šutaj Eštok additionally known as the taking pictures “politically motivated,” saying “the suspect made the choice to do it shortly after the presidential election.”

The assault happened 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 outdoors the cultural heart, the place the assembly happened, native media reported.

Footage from the scene exhibits the injured prime minister being bundled right into a automobile by his employees, earlier than it speeds away with him inside. Fico was taken to an area 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, in keeping with Slovak Labor Minister Erik Tomáš.

Fico is probably 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 mentioned the PM was taken to Banska Bystrica as an alternative of the capital metropolis of Bratislava as a result of “an acute intervention” was vital. Handlova is about two hours’ drive from the capital Bratislava.

Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová mentioned the suspected gunman was detained by the police. She mentioned legislation enforcement companies will launch extra data once they can and requested the general public to not unfold unconfirmed rumors. A video from the scene confirmed a person on the ground being detained by a number of officers.

Čaputová condemned what she known as a “brutal and reckless” assault on the 59-year-old politician. “I’m shocked. I want Roberto Fico all of the power on this vital second to get better from the assault,” Čaputová wrote on Fb. Talking at a information convention later within the afternoon, she mentioned the taking pictures was “an assault on democracy as effectively.”

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

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

“There isn’t a query that this was politically motivated. The lack to simply accept the selection of individuals, which some might not like … it results in this,” he mentioned.

Inside Minister Šutaj-Eštok known as for calm, saying “those that are endorsing this assault in addition to those that are calling for some kind 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 mentioned.

Following the taking pictures, Šutaj-Eštok mentioned 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.

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

“I heard three pictures, it was fast one after the other like when you throw a firecracker on the bottom,” eyewitness Lubica Valkova instructed Reuters, including that “he (Fico) fell subsequent to the barrier.”

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

Valkova mentioned 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 instructed 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 palms.”

In what was a surprising comeback for the controversial politician, Fico gained a 3rd time period as Slovakian prime minister final October after operating a marketing campaign that criticized western help for Ukraine. Fico had pledged a right away finish to Slovak navy help for Ukraine and promised to dam Ukraine’s NATO ambitions in what would upend Slovakia’s staunch backing for Ukraine.

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 turned a detailed ally of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, particularly when it got here to criticism of the European Union.

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 straight linked to Fico and his get together SMER.

World leaders instantly condemned the assault.

Russian President Vladimir Putin mentioned in a telegram to Slovakia’s president that “there could 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 valuable widespread good.”

And Hungarian Prime Minister Orban added: “I used to be deeply shocked by the heinous assault towards my good friend, 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 mentioned 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 together with his household and the folks of Slovakia,” he mentioned in an announcement.

United Nations Secretary-Normal António Guterres mentioned he “strongly condemns the surprising assault.”

This story has been up to date with further developments.

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