Slovak PM Fico In Life-Threatening Condition After ‘Politically Motivated’ Shooting


By Charles Szumski and Natália Silenská

(EurActiv) — Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico (Smer-SD, S&D) was shot in an assassination attempt on Wednesday afternoon (15 May) and was transported to the hospital, where he is in life-threatening condition, according to Denník N.

The shots were fired in front of the House of Culture in the Slovak city of Handlová in Western Slovakia, where the government was meeting, just as the prime minister was walking among citizens.

Interior Minister Matúš Šutaj Eštok told a press conference on Wednesday evening the attack was “politically motivated” and urged everyone to calm down, warning that Slovakia is “on the verge of a civil war”.

Denník N reporter Daniel Vražda did not see the incident, but he was nearby and heard several shots. He then saw the prime minister being lifted off the ground by security guards, loaded into a car, and driven away.

According to witnesses who were at the scene, Fico walked up to the people who were there to greet him and several shots were fired. Available information suggests four to five shots were fired in total, after which Fico fell to the ground.

The alleged shooter has been arrested.

“The perpetrator fired five shots and the prime minister remains in a critical condition. Initial information we have gathered suggests there was a clear political motivation, and a decision (to attack the PM) was made shortly after the presidential election,” minister Šutaj Eštok said.

He added that “the protection of constitutional representatives and several media outlets, as well of political representatives of both the coalition and the opposition will be strengthened over the next few days”.

Details on the shooter

Initial reports from Slovak TV channel JOJ 24 named the alleged shooter as 71-year-old Juraj Cintula, one of the founders of the DÚHA Literary Club, but there was no independent confirmation.

Cintula was chairman of the literary club until 2016 and has written three collections of poetry. Until 2016, he worked as a security guard in a shopping centre in Levice, but left after being assaulted while on duty.

The current condition of Fico

According to latest reports, Fico undertook major surgery of around 3.5 hours. Defence Minister Robert Kaliňák said the prime minister’s condition is very complicated. “We believe he will be strong enough to be able to cope with this trauma,” Kaliňák was quoted as saying in Dennik N.


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