Assassination attempt on the Prime Minister | Slovakia in shock

Hit by several bullets on Wednesday, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is “between life and death”

Slovakia is in shock. Its prime minister, Robert Fico, was the victim of an assassination attempt on Wednesday and shot “several times”. The attacker was arrested and taken into custody. The Ministry of Defense says it is a “political attack”.

According to Slovak TV channel TA3, Mr Fico, 59, was hit in the stomach after four shots were fired outside the House of Culture in Handlova, some 150 kilometers to the north -east of the capital Bratislava, where the head of government met his supporters. He had to undergo “urgent intervention” after being transported by helicopter to the town of Banska Bystrica, the government said in a statement.


“He is currently being transported by helicopter to Banska Bystrica between life and death,” the government said in a statement, calling the attack an “assassination attempt.”

Late in the evening, he was still in critical condition, “between life and death”.

Little was still known on Wednesday about this attempted murder. Witnesses report hearing “four gunshots” and seeing Robert Fico lying on the ground. Television footage shows his bodyguards rushing him into a car, then police apprehending and handcuffing the alleged assailant on the ground.


A man was arrested by the police.

It would be a 71-year-old local writer, according to press information. “I think I can confirm it, yes,” Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok responded to journalists about the identity of the suspect.

According to the Slovak Defense Minister, his gesture was politically motivated. “What happened is a political attack. It is absolutely clear, and we must react accordingly,” Robert Kaliniak said at a press conference at the hospital where Mr. Fico was operated on.

Three weeks before the European elections


Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico

Prime minister for the third time, Mr. Fico has long been considered a divisive figure in Slovakia, a country of 5 million inhabitants neighboring Ukraine. His return to power last year, on the basis of a pro-Russian and Eurosceptic message, sparked even greater concerns among other members of the European Union (EU), who fear that he would alienate his country of the mainstream of the West.

According to Alexandre Massaux, associate researcher at the Raoul-Dandurand Chair’s Observatory of Multidimensional Conflicts, it would not be surprising if this assassination attempt was linked to Mr. Fico’s major political orientations. Especially since it comes three weeks before the European elections, where strong growth is expected from populist right-wing parties, such as Robert Fico’s Smer-SD. “It can be driven by ideology. This is a probable explanation,” summarizes this Central Europe expert.

But it cannot be ruled out that the attack is also linked to questions of corruption which afflict the country of 5.4 million inhabitants. “There is very high corruption in Slovakia, there are problems with organized crime, so maybe that would be an avenue. Is this a settling of scores in relation to that? It’s a guess. But it could have played a role, one way or another,” suggests Mr. Massaux.

Recall that in April, the European Commission warned the Fico government that it was suspending the remaining money from the post-COVID recovery fund (around 3.5 billion euros) because of justice reforms carrying a blow to stop the fight against corruption. Among these: the abolition of the Office of the Special Prosecutor responsible for cases in this area, which was investigating relatives… of Robert Fico.

“Obhorrent” and “despicable”

Reactions poured in from all sides on Wednesday to condemn the assassination attempt.

Slovakia’s outgoing president, Zuzana Caputova, was the first to speak, calling the “brutal” assault on her political opponent an “attack on democracy.”

Slovakia’s main opposition parties, Progressive Slovakia and Freedom and Solidarity, have canceled a planned demonstration to protest a controversial government plan to overhaul public broadcasting which they say would give the government full control of public radio and television.

Abroad, Russian President Vladimir Putin and American President Joe Biden respectively condemned a “heinous crime” and a “despicable act of violence”. The Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, the secretaries general of the UN and NATO also expressed their “dismay”, while the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, judged that “such acts violence had no place in our society.

A former member of the Communist Party, Robert Fico was prime minister of Slovakia from 2006 to 2010, then from 2012 to 2018, before being ousted by anti-government protests that erupted after the assassination of a journalist who was investigating cases of collusion and corruption within his government.

Indicted in 2022 for forming an organized criminal group, Mr. Fico was re-elected in September 2023 on an openly pro-Russian program in which he pledged to “immediately cease all deliveries of military aid to Ukraine”. In April, he nevertheless made a change of tone, advocating a peaceful solution which respects the “territorial integrity” of this country. He is compared to the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, considered the black sheep of the European Union, due to his divergent policies.

With Agence France-Presse

Other personalities targeted by attacks


Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Shinzo Abe. On July 8, 2022, the former Japanese prime minister was shot twice in the neck, and he was declared dead a few hours later. His assassin accused him of his supposed relations with the Unification Church, nicknamed the “Moon sect”.

Cristina Kirchner. 1er September 2022, a man points a gun at the head of the Argentine vice-president as she mingles with supporters outside her home in Buenos Aires, without the gun firing. In preventive detention, the attacker motivates his action “by the situation in the country”.

Imran Khan. In November 2022, the former Pakistani prime minister was shot in the legs when the truck he was traveling in entered a crowded street in Wazirabad (east). The shooter said he acted because he believed Imran Khan was against Islam.

Jovenel Moïse. On July 27, 2021, the Haitian president was shot and killed in his private residence in Port-au-Prince by an armed commando composed of 28 men. The latter had planned to sequester Jovenel Moïse to replace him with an American-Haitian.

Jair Bolsonaro. The former Brazilian president was stabbed by a deranged man in September 2018 during a crowd bath. After coming close to death, he underwent several operations to remedy the after-effects of this attack.

– France Media Agency

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