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16 May, 2024 16:37

Slovak PM expected to survive assassination attempt – deputy

Robert Fico was gravely injured and was in surgery for hours after being shot on Wednesday
Slovak PM expected to survive assassination attempt – deputy

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is expected to survive after being critically injured in a “politically motivated” assassination attempt, according to his deputy Tomas Taraba.

Fico was shot several times at point-blank range on Wednesday following a government meeting in the small town of Handlova, some two hours from the capital Bratislava. After being rushed to a nearby hospital, the prime minister underwent a challenging five-hour surgery exacerbated by severe abdominal hemorrhage. However, Taraba indicated that as of Thursday afternoon, the Slovak leader’s life was no longer in danger.

“Fortunately, as far as I know, the operation went well, and I guess that at the end he will survive,” the deputy PM told the BBC.

The head of the hospital where Fico is being treated, Miriam Lapunikova, previously told reporters that his condition following the surgery was “stable yet serious.” She said he remains in intensive care.

Fico’s assailant was detained immediately following the gunfire. Slovak media identified him as 71-year-old Juraj Cintula, a former security guard at a shopping mall and the author of several volumes of poetry. However, authorities have yet to issue any official confirmation regarding the shooter’s identity.

At a press briefing earlier on Thursday, Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok described the attempt on Fico’s life as “politically motivated,” adding that the suspect was known to have taken part in anti-government protests in the past. According to Estok, the man closely followed domestic and international events and opposed some of Fico’s policies, including the suspension of arms shipments to Ukraine.

The minister also said that the alleged gunman has already been charged with premeditated attempted murder.

Robert Fico is known as a euro-skeptic. He won the Slovak election in October last year on a promise to put the country’s interests first and to stop military aid to Ukraine. Despite broad Western condemnation of Russia over the Ukraine conflict, Fico has made an effort to maintain relations with Moscow and has repeatedly criticized EU sanctions policy.

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