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16 May, 2024 12:00

Fico shooter protested suspension of Ukraine military aid – Slovak interior minister

Matuss Sutaj Estok called the suspect a “lone wolf” discontent with Bratislava’s policies
Fico shooter protested suspension of Ukraine military aid – Slovak interior minister

The man who critically injured Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico on Wednesday was a fierce critic of the latter’s decision to stop arms shipments to Ukraine, Interior Minister Matuss Sutaj Estok has said.

Fico was shot at point-blank range several times on Wednesday as he greeted supporters in the small town of Handlova. The assailant was immediately arrested and the prime minister was rushed to a hospital in serious condition. Local authorities said earlier that there was a “clear political motivation” behind the attack.

Media reports identified the attacker as Juraj Cintula, 71, said to be the founder of the Slovak Association of Writers and a supporter of the opposition Progressive Slovakia party.

On Tuesday, Sutaj Estok confirmed earlier media reports that “the perpetrator is charged with the premeditated crime of attempted murder” and stressed that this was “a politically motivated act.”

According to the minister, the suspect closely followed domestic and international events, and protested against several government policies, including the closure of the Special Prosecutor’s Office, and the suspension of military aid to Ukraine. Fico, a critic of the Western stance on the Ukraine conflict, campaigned on a promise to cut arms deliveries to Kiev, which he proceeded to do after taking over as prime minister after the election last autumn’

“He stated these reasons why he disagrees with the government policy and why he decided to assassinate the Prime Minister,” Sutaj Estok said, describing the attacker as “the so-called lonely wolf” not linked to any groups. 

He noted that the suspect’s actions were in part accelerated by the recent victory of Peter Pellegrini, an ally of Fico, in the presidential election. The term of the current president, Zuzana Caputova, described as having pro-Western leanings, expires next month. Both Pellegrini and Caputova have denounced the attack, describing it as a threat to democracy.

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