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15 May, 2024 13:55

Slovak prime minister survives surgery after assassination attempt: As it happened

Robert Fico was wounded when an assailant fired multiple shots outside a government meeting
Slovak prime minister survives surgery after assassination attempt: As it happened

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot and wounded on Wednesday when multiple shots were fired at him as he greeted the public after a government meeting. 

Fico was taken to hospital by his security detail after the shooting, while his attacker was detained by police. According to Deputy Prime Minister Tomas Taraba, Fico has survived the surgery and is expected to recover. 

According to local media reports, four shots were fired at Fico as he shook hands with supporters outside a meeting in Handlova, around 150km east of Bratislava. At least one of the shots struck the prime minister, witnesses reported.

  • 16 May 2024

    02:02 GMT

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  • 01:32 GMT

    Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky condemned the attack on Fico. “Every effort should be made to ensure that violence does not become the norm in any country,” he wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

    After becoming prime minister for a third time in October 2023, Fico reversed the previous government’s decision to send weapons to Ukraine. He also argued that the conflict between Ukraine and Russia should be resolved through diplomacy.

  • 01:01 GMT

    Officials and commentators have linked the shooting with incendiary rhetoric and an overall toxic political environment in the country.

    “The political climate in Slovakia… was very polarized for a number of years,” former government adviser Milan Nic told the BBC. He added that politicians in Slovakia have been receiving death threats, including outgoing President Zuzana Caputova.

  • 00:52 GMT

    Fico is conscious after surgery, the Dennik N daily reported late Wednesday night.

    He was operated on in the Roosevelt Hospital in Banska Bystrica.

  • 00:10 GMT

    Slovakia’s parliament has tightened security and adopted additional measures to protect MPs, the news agency TASR reported.

    The parliamentary session has been suspended until next week, and visits to the National Council building have been temporarily banned.

  • 00:00 GMT

    President-elect Peter Pellegrini and Finance Minister Ladislav Kamenicky have decided to cut their foreign trips short and return to Bratislava.

    Pellegrini described the attempt on Fico’s life as “an unprecedented threat to Slovak democracy.”

    “I am horrified by where the hatred towards another political opinion can lead. We don’t have to agree on everything, but there are plenty of ways to express our disagreement democratically and legally,” the president-elect wrote on X.

  • 15 May 2024

    22:42 GMT

    Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that he was “deeply shocked by the heinous attack against my friend, Prime Minister Robert Fico.”

    “God bless him and his country!” he wrote.

  • 21:41 GMT

    Deputy Prime Minister Tomas Taraba told BBC’s Newshour on Wednesday night that Fico “is not in a life-threatening situation at this moment.”

    “Fortunately, as far as I know, the operation went well – and I guess in the end he will survive,” Taraba said.

  • 19:19 GMT

    “There is no doubt” that the attack on Fico was a politically motivated assassination attempt, Deputy Prime Minister Robert Kalinak told reporters outside the hospital in Banska Bystrica. “The inability to accept the will of some part of the public, which some group does not like, is the result that they have worked towards today,” said the minister, seemingly referring to Fico’s political opponents.

    Earlier, TA3 News published a video in which the detained suspect told police that he shot Fico because he “disagreed” with his government’s policies.

  • 17:44 GMT

    Fico’s security detail was “not in order,” the former head of the Office for the Protection of Constitutional Officials, Juraj Zabojnik, told Dennik N. “When four or five shots are fired, someone is guilty. I didn't see anyone jumping in front of the prime minister,” Zabojnik said.

    The security team should have placed operatives among the crowd, he continued, adding that while “it may happen that the first shot gets out,” Fico should have been shielded from any subsequent shots.

    “When something like this happens and with such a large body of security personnel, it will be a very tough subject of investigation,” Zabojnik concluded.