Slovakia PM suffers life-threatening wounds in assassination attempt: Govt

AFP , Wednesday 15 May 2024

Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico was battling life-threatening wounds Wednesday after officials said he was shot multiple times in an assassination attempt condemned by European leaders.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico at hospital
Rescue workers and policemen take Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who was shot and injured, to a hospital in the town of Banska Bystrica, central Slovakia, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. AP


The Dennik N daily said its reporter in the central town of Handlova heard several shots fired and then saw security guards rushing to lift the premier off the ground and into a car.

"Police have detained the attacker and as soon as possible will give more information," the country's president Zuzana Caputova said in a statement, calling the shooting on her political opponent an "attack on democracy".

"Today, after the government meeting in Handlova, there was an assassination attempt on the Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, Robert Fico", the government said in a post on social media.

Fico, whose Smer-SD party won the general election last September, is a four-time prime minister and a political veteran.

"He is currently being transported by helicopter to Banska Bystrica in a life-threatening condition because it would take too long to get to Bratislava due to the necessity of an acute intervention", the government's statement added.

Fico was shot multiple times, according to a post on his official Facebook page.

Handlova local hospital director Marta Eckhardtova said "Fico was brought into our hospital and he was treated at our vascular surgery clinic".

She was unable to describe his injuries.

It added that the chief of police and health ministry official would hold a press conference at 1500 GMT.

Attack condemned 

Slovak President Zuzana Caputova said she was "utterly shocked by today's brutal and reckless attack on Slovakia's prime minister... which I condemn in (the) strongest possible terms".

"I wish him a lot of strength in this critical moment and early recovery," she said on X, formerly Twitter.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala also called the news of the attack "shocking".

"I hope the prime minister will get well as soon as possible. We must not tolerate violence, it must have no place in society," he said on X.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said: "Robert, my thoughts are with you in this very difficult moment".

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on X he was "shocked to hear this awful news".

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda called for a "thorough investigation" and wished Fico "a full recovery".

As well as his current stint as premier, Fico also headed the government in 2006-10 and 2012-18.

Since he was elected last October, Fico has made a string of remarks that have soured ties between Slovakia and neighboring Ukraine.

He has notably questioned Ukraine's sovereignty and called for a compromise with Russia.

After he was elected, Slovakia stopped sending weapons to Ukraine. He pledged during the electoral campaign not to provide Kyiv with "a single bullet".

He also sparked mass protests with controversial changes, including a media law that critics say will undermine the impartiality of public television and radio.

At a press conference following the shooting, MP Lubos Blaha from Fico's Smer party lashed out against his critics.

"You, the liberal media, and progressive politicians are to blame. Robert Fico is fighting for his life because of your hatred," Blaha said.

Short link: