Slovak prime minister shot, in life-threatening condition 

World News

By Jack Phillips 
Contributing Writer 

Slovakia’s prime minister, Robert Fico, was shot Wednesday following a government meeting, according to his office. 

A reporter with TASR said that several shots were fired at Fico near a cultural house in Handlova, located in central Slovakia, and an assailant was detained. The individual’s identity was not disclosed. 

The Emergency Medical Service Operation Center told TASR that Fico’s condition is currently not known. However, according to the prime minister’s social media profile, he’s in a life-threatening condition. 

His Facebook profile said he was being transported by helicopter to the Banska Bystrica hospital, 63 miles away from Handlova, because it would take too long to get to Bratislava due to the necessity of an acute procedure. “The next few hours will decide,” the social media post said. 

“When the shots rang out, I almost went deaf,” a woman, who declined to give her name, told local media. 

Fico, 59, fell to the ground after being shot and suffered injuries to his chest and head, she said, adding that three or four shots rang out. 

A video that was apparently taken at the scene showed Mr. Fico’s security team moving him to a black car. 

Outgoing Slovak President Zuzana Caputova strongly condemned the attack on Fico, saying in a statement that she is “shocked” and wishes him “strength at this critical moment to recover from the attack. 

“I am appalled at where hatred for a different political opinion can lead. We don’t have to agree with everything, but there are many ways to express our disagreement democratically and legally.” 

President-elect Peter Pellegrini, meanwhile, wrote that he wishes “the prime minister a speedy recovery,” adding that the “senseless and brutal act becomes the target of general condemnation.” 

“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!” wrote Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, sometimes described as an ally of Fico in the European Union. 

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk wrote: “Shocking news from Slovakia. Robert, my thoughts are with you in this very difficult moment.” 

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, condemned what she described as a disturbing attack on Fico. 

“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, his family,” she wrote on social media. 

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg wrote on the social media platform X that he was “shocked and appalled by the shooting.” 

Ukraine Prime Minister Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that “the attack on Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico is appalling” and that “we strongly condemn this act of violence against our neighboring partner state’s head of government.” 

During his three-decade career, Fico first joined the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia in 1986 before joining its successor party in 1996. As a member of Slovakia’s center-left for years, he has alternated between the pro-European mainstream and nationalistic positions opposed to European Union and U.S. policies. He has also shown a willingness to change course depending on public opinion or evolving political realities. 

Following the shooting, Slovakia’s biggest opposition party called off a planned protest against government public broadcaster reforms set for Wednesday evening. 

“We absolutely and strongly condemn violence and today’s shooting of Premier Robert Fico,” Progressive Slovakia leader Michal Simecka said in a statement. “At the same time we call on all politicians to refrain from any expressions and steps which could contribute to further increasing the tension.” 

Fico’s party, Smer — or Direction — described as center-left, won the country’s September 2023 parliamentary elections. 

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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