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Slovak PM 'no longer in life-threatening condition' after assassination attempt

by Chris York and The Kyiv Independent news desk May 16, 2024 8:57 AM 2 min read
Security personnel apprehending a suspected gunman after Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot in Handlova, Slovakia, on May 15, 2024. (AFP via Getty Images)
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Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is no longer in life-threatening condition after being shot several times during an assassination attempt, a Slovak deputy prime minister said late in the evening on May 15.

Fico was attacked earlier on May 15 as he left a government meeting in the town of Handlova.

Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok said that the suspected assailant fired five shots, three of which hit the prime minister.

"Fortunately, as far as I know, the operation went well, and I guess in the end he will survive," Slovak Deputy Prime Minister and Environment Minister Tomas Taraba told the BBC's Newshour, adding: "He's not in a life-threatening situation at this moment."

A 71-year-old man is reportedly suspected of carrying out what Slovak government officials have called an assassination attempt and has been detained.

Estok said the attack was "politically motivated."

President-elect Peter Pellegrini, an ally of Fico's, said the shooting was a threat to Slovakia's democracy.

"I am appalled at where hatred for a different political opinion can lead," Pellegrini said.

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International leaders immediately reacted to the news and offered their support to Fico and Slovakia.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said Fico's shooting was "appalling" and added that "we strongly condemn this act of violence against our neighboring partner state's head of government."

Many also linked hostile political rhetoric to the attack.

Czech President Petr Pavel said the attack on Fico "is unequivocally reprehensible, whatever the motivation."

"It should be a warning to us about how far the deepening of animosity and aggression in society can lead."

Estok urged the public to "stop attacks and hatred on social networks and media" and warned that the attack was a sign that "we are on the verge of civil war."

Elected in September 2023 on a populist, Ukraine-skeptic platform, Fico halted arms supplies from Slovakia's military stocks and has repeatedly criticized both defense assistance for Ukraine and sanctions against Russia.

Fico has since expressed support for Ukraine's accession to the EU.

Slovak citizens raise funds to buy over 2,500 shells for Ukraine
A Slovak fundraising campaign for the Czech ammunition initiative has raised enough money to buy 2,692 shells for Ukraine, the Czech News Agency reported on May 8.
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