Slovak PM Fico no longer in critical condition after being shot five times

Slovakia PM survived an assassination attempt and was left in critical condition after being shot five times

By
Reuters
Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico looks on during a press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin, Germany, January 24, 2024. — Reuters
  • Robert Fico survives assassination attempt, undergoes surgery.
  • 1 bullet went through his stomach, another hit a joint: Deputy PM.
  • Presidents Joe Biden, Vladimir Putin condemn attack on Slovak PM.


BANSKA BYSTRICA: Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico's condition has stabilised and he is no longer in "life-threatening condition" after surviving an assassination attempt on Wednesday, said the country's Deputy PM and Environment Minister Tomas Taraba.

"Fortunately as far as I know the operation went well [...] and I guess in the end he will survive [...] he's not in a life-threatening situation at this moment," Taraba told the BBC.

Fico, 59, survived an assassination attempt and was left in critical condition and had to go through surgery after being shot five times while leaving a government meeting a day earlier.

As per the Deputy PM, one bullet went through Fico's stomach and a second hit a joint.

The shooting in the central Slovak town of Handlova, which Slovak media said was carried out by a 71-year-old man, stunned the small central European nation and drew international condemnation.

After the attack, Fico was rushed to a hospital in Handlova where he had been chairing a government meeting. He was then transported by helicopter to the regional capital Banska Bystrica for urgent treatment, it said, adding that his condition was too serious for him to be taken to Bratislava.

Security officials detain a person after the shooting of Slovak PM Robert Fico in Handlova, Slovakia on May 15. 2024. — Reuters

A Reuters witness heard shots as Fico exited a building to shake hands with a crowd of people who had been waiting to greet him. Police then wrestled a man to the ground.

Slovak news media reported the shooter was a former security guard at a shopping mall, an author of three collections of poetry and a member of the Slovak Society of Writers. 

News outlet Aktuality.sk cited his son as saying his father was the legal holder of a gun licence.

"I have absolutely no idea what my father intended, what he planned, what happened," it quoted the son as saying.

Slovakia, a member of NATO and the European Union has little history of political violence. Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden joined Slovakia's EU partners in expressing shock and condemnation of the shooting.

Describing the shooting as a "monstrous" crime, Putin said in a telegram sent to Slovakia's President Zuzana Caputova: "I know Robert Fico as a courageous and strong-minded man. I very much hope that these qualities will help him to survive this difficult situation."

Meanwhile, President Biden said: "We condemn this horrific act of violence."

The country of 5.4 million has seen polarised political debate in recent years, including the hard-fought presidential election last month that helped tighten Fico's grip on power.

Since returning as prime minister last October, Fico has shifted policy quickly. Opposition critics call it a power grab.

His government has scaled back support for Ukraine while opening dialogue with Russia sought to weaken punishments for corruption and dismantled a special prosecutor's office, and is revamping the RTVS public broadcaster despite calls to protect media freedom.

Fico has long been critical of Slovakia's mainstream media, refusing to speak to some outlets. Members of his party blasted media and opposition actions in recent months.