Robert Fico injured by bullet: “between life and death”, assailant arrested, motivations… What we know about the attack on the Slovak Prime Minister

Robert Fico injured by bullet: “between life and death”, assailant arrested, motivations… What we know about the attack on the Slovak Prime Minister
Robert Fico injured by bullet: “between life and death”, assailant arrested, motivations… What we know about the attack on the Slovak Prime Minister

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Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico was the target of several shots on Wednesday. He is hospitalized in serious condition.

The news, which occurred in the afternoon, surprised and shocked the summit of European states. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico finds himself “between life and death” after being shot on Wednesday May 15.

What are the facts ?

The events occurred after a cabinet meeting in Handlova, in central Slovakia, according to the newspaper Dennik N. A reporter saw the head of government taken away in a car by bodyguards. “Today, after a government meeting in Handlova, there was an assassination attempt on the Prime Minister,” the government confirmed. “We confirm the attack on the Prime Minister,” police spokesperson Matej Neumann also told AFP. According to the Prime Minister’s official Facebook page, he was shot “several times”.

He is now “between life and death” according to the government. As of early Wednesday evening, Robert Fico was still in the operating room and his life was still “in danger.” “It is currently being transported by helicopter to Banska Bystrica”, a town in central Slovakia, the government said in a press release released in the afternoon. The Prime Minister was first transported to Handlova hospital, in the “vascular surgery unit”, first indicated the director of the establishment, Marta Eckhardtova, who did not give details. about the nature of his injuries.

Slovak President Zuzana Caputova condemned a “brutal and irresponsible” attack. “I am shocked. I wish Robert Fico a lot of strength in this critical moment to recover from this attack”, “brutal and irresponsible”, said the outgoing president in a press release.

Who is the attacker?

No information has yet been released regarding the profile of the author of the attack. According to the newspaper Dennik N., the suspected shooter was apprehended by the police. Information subsequently confirmed by the Slovak president. “The police have arrested the attacker and will provide more information as quickly as possible,” Zuzana Caputova said in a statement, calling the attack on her political opponent an “attack on democracy.”

According to the defense minister, the attack 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 held at the hospital where Robert Fico is operated on.

What reactions in Europe?

The leaders of the European Union institutions reacted strongly to the news. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen deplored the “despicable attack” on the Slovak Prime Minister. “Such acts of violence have no place in our society and undermine democracy, our most precious common good. My thoughts are with Prime Minister Fico and his family,” wrote on https://twitter.com/vonderleyen/status/1790739191866753069 (ex-Twitter) the President of the Commission. “Nothing can ever justify violence or such attacks”, also underlined the President of the European Council https://twitter.com/CharlesMichel/status/1790742486639317397. The President of the European Parliament https://twitter.com/EP_President/status/1790742181226918335 also said she was “shocked by the horrible attack” against the Slovak leader. “On behalf of the European Parliament, I condemn this act of violence,” added the Maltese official. The Secretary General of NATO https://twitter.com/jensstoltenberg/status/1790748869883580661 declared himself “dismayed”. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “strongly” condemned the “shocking attack” on Robert Fico. “The Secretary General’s thoughts are with the Prime Minister and his loved ones at this difficult time,” a spokesperson added.

I strongly condemn the vile attack on Prime Minister Robert Fico.

Such acts of violence have no place in our society and undermine democracy, our most precious common good.

My thoughts are with PM Fico and his family.

— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) https://twitter.com/vonderleyen/status/1790739191866753069?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Shocked and appalled by the shooting of Prime Minister Robert Fico. I wish him strength for a speedy recovery. My thoughts are with Robert Fico, his loved ones, and the people of Slovakia.

— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) https://twitter.com/jensstoltenberg/status/1790748869883580661?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

In Hungary, bordering Slovakia, the Prime Minister https://twitter.com/PM_ViktorOrban/status/1790740770418208860 said he was “deeply shocked by the heinous attack perpetrated against my friend, Prime Minister Robert Fico”. The leader added that he prayed “for his health and speedy recovery.”

I was deeply shocked by the heinous attack against my friend, Prime Minister Robert Fico. We pray for his health and quick recovery! God bless him and his country!

— Orbán Viktor (@PM_ViktorOrban) https://twitter.com/PM_ViktorOrban/status/1790740770418208860?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

The Ukrainian President https://twitter.com/ZelenskyyUa/status/1790749897022472677 denounced the “appalling” attack on the Slovak Prime Minister, a populist who made statements seen as favorable to Russia before adopting a more conciliatory tone in recent months. Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced a “heinous crime”. “I know Robert Fico as a courageous and determined man. I hope that these qualities will help him overcome this difficult situation,” the Russian president wrote in a telegram addressed to the president of Slovakia and released by the Kremlin.

The attack on Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico is appalling.

We strongly condemn this act of violence against our neighboring partner state’s head of government. Every effort should be made to ensure that violence does not become the norm in any country, form, or sphere.…

— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) https://twitter.com/ZelenskyyUa/status/1790749897022472677?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

I am deeply shocked by the news of the cowardly attack on Slovakian Prime Minister Fico. Violence must not be existing in European politics. In these hours, my thoughts are with Robert Fico, his family and the citizens of Slovakia.

— Bundeskanzler Olaf Scholz (@Bundeskanzler) https://twitter.com/Bundeskanzler/status/1790746295507821026?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

The German Chancellor https://twitter.com/Bundeskanzler/status/1790746295507821026 for his part said he was “upset by the cowardly attack”. “Violence can have no place in European politics. In these hours, my thoughts are with Robert Fico, the family and the Slovak citizens,” he added on X. The head of the Italian government https://twitter.com/GiorgiaMeloni/status/1790749950755692996 declared itself “shocked” by this “vile attack” and expressed “the strongest condemnation of any form of violence and attack on the basic principles of democracy and freedom”.

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