Deputy Expects Prime Minister of Slovakia to Survive Shooting

Robert Fico had been meeting with supporters following a government meeting
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 15, 2024 9:19 AM CDT
Updated May 15, 2024 6:25 PM CDT
Slovakia's Prime Minister Shot in 'Brutal and Reckless Attack'
Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico is seen in Handlova, Slovakia, on Wednesday.   (Radovan Stoklasa/TASR via AP)

Slovakia's prime minister underwent hours of emergency surgery after an assassination attempt Wednesday, and Robert Fico's condition has improved, his deputy said. "I guess in the end he will survive," Tomas Taraba told the BBC. "He's not in a life-threatening situation at this moment." The New York Times and CNN cite local media in reporting that Fico was wounded while speaking to supporters after an off-site government meeting in Handlova, some two hours from the capital Bratislava. Video footage shows the assailant firing five times before bodyguards subdued him. Taraba said Fico was shot in the stomach and a joint in what the country's president called a "brutal and reckless attack."

He was airlifted by helicopter to a hospital nearby, then flown to another one in Banska Bystrica, east of Handlova. Authorities did not identify the suspect, but Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok said at a press conference that "Initial information clearly points to political motivation." He said more information about the shooting would be released in the coming days. "I am shocked," President Zuzana Caputova wrote on Facebook, per the Times. "I wish Robert Fico a lot of strength in this critical moment to recover from the attack." In a statement later, Caputova said, "The shooting of the prime minister is first and foremost an attack on a human being, but it's also an attack on democracy."

The Times reports that Fico, a longtime politician, "has aligned with the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orban, in opposing aid to Ukraine and challenging mainstream opinions within the European Union." The third-time premier, 59, who returned to the post after parliamentary elections in September, is something of a political comeback, as he'd resigned in 2018 under a cloud of corruption allegations. The AP notes he campaigned on "a pro-Russian and anti-American message," generating rallies in protest of that line of thought. (This story has been updated with details on Fico's condition.)

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