Live Updates: Slovakia’s Leader in ‘Life-Threatening’ Condition After Shooting

Live Updates: Slovakia’s Leader in ‘Life-Threatening’ Condition After Shooting

Slovakia’s prime minister, Robert Fico, a fixture within the nation’s politics recognized for defying his fellow leaders within the European Union, underwent hours of emergency surgical procedure on Wednesday after being shot 5 instances and critically wounded in a city in central Slovakia, in what officers mentioned seemed to be a politically motivated assassination try.

His deputy, Tomas Taraba, advised the BBC that the operation appeared to have gone properly. “I assume in the long run he’ll survive,” he mentioned.

The taking pictures was probably the most severe assault on a European chief in a long time, drawing shock and condemnation from Slovak officers and different European leaders and stoking fears that Europe’s more and more polarized and venomous political debates had tipped into violence.

The occasions have been captured on movies, which confirmed Mr. Fico, 59, approaching a small group of individuals behind a waist-high metallic barrier on a public sq. within the city of Handlova, when a person stepped ahead and fired a pistol from just some toes away. Five bangs could possibly be heard.

With the primary bang, Mr. Fico doubled over on the waist and fell backward onto a bench as extra studies ring out. Security officers then hustled him right into a black Audi a number of toes away, half-carrying him to the automobile’s rear door. He was taken to a neighborhood hospital and airlifted to a different for surgical procedure.

Security officers on the scene of the taking pictures wrestled a suspect to the bottom, and officers mentioned that preliminary proof pointed to political motivations. The authorities didn’t determine the suspect, whom Slovak information shops described as a 71-year-old poet. The nation’s inside minister, Matus Sutaj Estok, mentioned extra data can be made public “within the coming days.”

The president of Slovakia, Zuzana Caputova, whose place is essentially ceremonial, mentioned in an announcement, “The taking pictures of the prime minister is at the start an assault on a human being, but it surely’s additionally an assault on democracy.”

The taking pictures additionally drew a refrain of condemnation from world leaders, together with President Biden, who known as it a “horrific act of violence,” and Russia’s chief, Vladimir V. Putin, who lauded Mr. Fico as a “brave and strong-minded man.”

Prime Minister Robert Fico of Slovakia on a go to to Prague in February. Credit…Michal Cizek/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mr. Fico started his three-decade political profession as a leftist however through the years shifted to the appropriate, as did the party he based, Smer. He served as prime minister from 2006 to 2010 and from 2012 to 2018, earlier than returning to energy in elections final yr. After being ousted amid avenue protests in 2018, he was re-elected on a platform of social conservatism, nationalism and guarantees of beneficiant welfare applications.

Mr. Fico introduced himself as a pugnacious fighter for the frequent man and an enemy of liberal elites and immigration from outdoors Europe, and he aligned with Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, in opposing assist to Ukraine and difficult mainstream opinions inside the European Union.

Domestically, his critics accused him of undermining the independence of the information media, opposed his efforts to limit international funding of civic organizations and known as him a menace to democracy. They additionally accused Mr. Fico of looking for to take Slovakia again to the repressive days of the Soviet bloc.

Here is what else to know:

  • Mr. Fico was in Handlova to carry a governmental assembly, which he adopted with a virtually hourlong information convention. He had simply emerged from these occasions when he was attacked.

  • The Parliament of Slovakia suspended its conferences and mentioned it was “considerably” bolstering its safety measures. Some of Mr. Fico’s parliamentary allies urged that his liberal opponents had created the environment for the taking pictures.

  • Michal Simecka, the chair of the opposition party Progressive Slovakia, mentioned he shared within the “horror” of the assault and harassed that the attacker was not a member of his motion or related to his party in any manner.

Pavol Strba and Gaya Gupta contributed reporting.


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