Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico in life-threatening condition

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico was injured in shooting in Handlova. He was taken to hospital  in life-threatening condition, Slovak media reported.

According to preliminary information, the prime minister was shot four times, with one of the bullets hitting him in the abdomen. The tragedy took place in front of the House of Culture in Handlova. The town is located 150 km north-east of the capital Bratislava.

The news of the assassination attempt was confirmed at the local parliament meeting. The Deputy President of the National Council, Lubos Blaha (Smer SD), suspended the current session indefinitely.

According to JOJ television, a man in the crowd opened fire on the Prime Minister after he had gone out to greet the residents of Handlova.

According to witnesses who were at the scene, Fico approached the people who were greeting him, then several shots were produced. The prime minister then fell to the ground.

The police detained the alleged attacker and cordoned off the area around the building.

President and opposition - shocked

President Zuzana Chaputova strongly condemned the "brutal and reckless" attack on the prime minister: "I am shocked. I wish Robert Fico much strength to recover from the attack at this critical moment".

Michal Šimečka, Deputy Speaker of Parliament and President of the opposition Progressive Slovakia, is shocked and appalled by the shooting of Prime Minister Robert Fico. "We unequivocally and categorically condemn all violence. We believe that Prime Minister Fico will recover and that this terrible act will be clarified as soon as possible," he stressed.

The country's prosecutor general promised that "all actions will be taken so that the perpetrator is uncompromisingly and justly punished".

Shock also in the EU

The sharp reaction of the responsible European actors was not delayed. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen "strongly condemned the despicable attack" on Fico.

"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," she wrote on social media.

"I was deeply shocked by the monstrous attack on my friend, Prime Minister Robert Fico." This is what Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban wrote on the social network X. "We pray for his health and speedy recovery! God bless him and his country!" added Orban.

European Council President Charles Michel wrote on social network X that "nothing can justify violence or such attacks". "My thoughts are with the prime minister and his family," he added.

Bulgaria also condemned the attack on Fico. "We strongly condemn the attack on Robert Fico! We wish him a speedy recovery and his family strength and courage," the Council of Ministers said.

Who is Robert Fico?

Born into a working-class family on 15 September 1964, Fico, a lawyer by profession, began his political career in the Communist Party shortly before the 1989 "Velvet Revolution" that led to the break-up of the former Czechoslovakia.

From 1994 to 2000 he was Slovakia's representative at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), and in 1999 he founded his centre-left Smer-SD party after being rejected for a ministerial post by the Democratic Left (DL), the political heirs of the Communists.

In 2006, Smer won a landslide victory that propelled Fico to the premiership two years after Slovakia joined the EU. In 2009, he took his country into the eurozone but failed to form a coalition the following year, despite winning the election.

In 2012, after the centre-right coalition collapsed amid corruption allegations, he achieved another victory, and in 2016 he won again, but two years later had to resign amid mass protests over the murder of an investigative journalist and his fiancée.

Embroiled in corruption allegations he has always denied, Fico is a fan of bodybuilding, football and fast cars. He has called Slovak journalists "dirty anti-Slovak prostitutes".

He admires both Vladimir Putin, saying he would not allow the Russian president to be arrested on an international warrant if he came to Slovakia, and Hungary's illiberal leader Viktor Orban.

In 2023, Smer again won parliamentary elections and then managed to form a governing coalition. Fico, in turn, took the helm of the executive. /BGNES