Robert Fico: The prime minister of Slovakia is in a life-threatening situation as a result of the shooting World news

Mr Fico was attacked after leaving the meeting – five shots were fired and a bloodied man was arrested at the scene. The Slovak government says it was an “assassination attempt” and that the next few hours are critical.

Wed 15 May 2024 21:23 UK

Slovakia’s Prime Minister is fighting for his life and is undergoing surgery after being shot several times.

Robert Fico He was taken to the hospital and the suspect, who was 71 years old, was arrested at the scene.

The shooting happened Wednesday afternoon in Handlova, about 85 miles (136 km) from the capital Bratislava, after a meeting at a cultural center.

Watch live: Slovakia’s Prime Minister “is in a life-threatening condition”

SlovakiaThe interior minister said there was a “clear political motivation” behind the attack, which local television reported hit Fico in the stomach.

The 59-year-old was taken to a local hospital and then transferred to a larger facility in Banska Bystrica.

“The coming hours will decide,” Mr Fico said in a post on his Facebook page.

The prime minister was still undergoing surgery on Wednesday evening, the country’s defense minister said, describing his condition as “extraordinarily serious”.

Interior Minister Matus Sutaj-Estok told reporters outside the hospital that the attacker fired five shots.

After the incident, security forces put Mr. Fico in the car. Photo: Reuters

The Prime Minister of Slovakia was locked in a car after the shooting

According to reports, the arrested man is 71 years old. Photo: Reuters

Two witnesses told local news outlet Diary N about the moment of the shooting.

“I was just going to shake hands,” said one.

“When the shots rang out, I almost became deaf,” said another, who did not want to be named.

He said there were three or four shots and that Mr. Fico fell to the floor with blood on his chest and head.

Other witnesses said the attacker used a friendly nickname to call out to the prime minister as he approached the crowd of supporters.

According to Slovak media, he was a former security guard and author of poetry collections.

“Polarized Political Bruise”

By Darren McCaffrey, Political Correspondent

Robert Fico has been in Slovakian politics for decades, even before the existence of Slovakia.

A high-profile figure, he is a political figure who is polarizing at home and across Europe.

His election last year seemed almost impossible until recently, after Fico was forced to resign amid allegations of corruption and the murder of a prominent journalist.

It seems that his political career is over.

However, he backed off his campaign to end military support for Ukraine.

He is also resistant to sanctions against Russia, conservative on social issues and attacking the EU project.

This populist approach has a large constituency, with mostly rural, older, conservative voters helping him to a third term.

But not with everyone, his party received the largest number of votes, although it was only 23%.

Slovakia, like many of its neighbors, is deeply divided with younger, more metropolitan voters angered by the nationalist approach to politics.

They are more pro-EU, pro-Ukraine and liberal.

Concerns about an authoritarian approach to politics, restrictions on media freedom and opposition parties are also widespread.

The result is a polarized country with a polarized prime minister who has never shown any desire for reconciliation.

The Prime Minister was taken to the hospital in the city of Banska. Image: AP

Robert Fico on the world stage

Robert Fico’s election victory last fall meant NATO had another leader – alongside Hungary’s Viktor Orb├ín, who sympathizes with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

He has previously opposed EU sanctions on Russia – and opposed Ukraine’s inclusion in a defense treaty.

He believes that the United States and other countries should use their influence to force Russia and Ukraine to sign a compromise peace agreement.

Mr. Fico also repeated Putin’s unsubstantiated claim that the Ukrainian government is running a Nazi state from which ethnic Russians living in the country need protection.

Critics also voiced growing fears that Mr Fico would abandon Slovakia’s pro-Western course.

Click here to read more.

World leaders – including Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden – were quick to condemn the shooting.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen called it a “disgraceful attack” and Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said it was “shocking”.

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“I am deeply shocked by the news of the cowardly murder of Slovak Prime Minister Fikos,” said German leader Olaf Scholz.

Violence should have no place in European politics.

About 5.5 million people live in the Central European country

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk wrote on X: “Shocking news from Slovakia. Robert, my thoughts are with you at this very difficult time.”

Mr. Fico is a three-time prime minister of Slovakia and a supporter of the country’s political scene.

However, he is a divisive figure, with many criticizing his more sympathetic stances towards the Russian president Vladimir Putin and views on LGBTQ rights.

He won the election in September on a pro-Russian and anti-American message.

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President Putin said the shooting of Fico was a “heinous” crime that had “no justification”.

In a Telegram post, he wished him a “speedy and complete recovery” and added: “I know Robert Fico as a man of courage and strong mind.

“I really hope that these qualities will help him survive this difficult situation.”

President of the USA Joe Biden said his thoughts were “with his (Fiko’s) family and the people of Slovakia”.

“We condemn this horrific act of violence. Our embassy is in close contact with the Slovak government and is ready to help,” the statement said.

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