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Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico Shot, Suspect Arrested

The Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot during a public meeting in a mountainous central district of the country, a witness speaks of his head and chest having “bloody injuries”.

A gunman shot recently re-elected left-populist Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico on Wednesday afternoon in the central town of Handlova, in the mountainous Trenčín Region. Slovakian publication Denník N reports Fico was meeting members of the public at a local cultural centre when shots rang out. A witness is reported to have said: “When the shots rang out, they were deafening” and that she had seen Fico fall to the ground with “bloody injuries on his chest and head”.

An alleged gunman has been arrested.

The Slovakian government has given no update on Fico’s condition. He was rushed to hospital, but it is reported he was not taken to the closest hospital in Bojnice, 12 miles away.

Footage shared from the scene shows bodyguards pick up Fico and rush him to his limousine, which then speeds away. In the foreground, police can be seen piling on to what may be the suspect on the ground.

Slovakian President Zuzana Čaputová called the apparent attempted assassination as brutal, and said: “I am shocked. I wish Roberto Fico a lot of strength at this critical moment to recover from the attack”, reports national broadsheet newspaper SME. The Slovakian parliament and a meeting of the government has been suspended.

The shooting was immediately met with anger in Parliament, Denník N reports. It is stated Richard Glück of Fico’s own party the left-wing-nationalist Direction – Social Democracy (‘Smer’) stormed into the parliamentary chamber and shouted at members of the opposition that Fico had been shot because of their rhetoric. Per the report, Glück was criticised by others for not acting with the decorum of a public official, and the Parliament’s speaker in turn said Glück should be given understanding for his emotional state has the head of his party had just been shot.

Tomáš Taraba, the Slovak environment minister and one of the country’s four deputy Prime Ministers wrote immediately after the shooting that: “The entire hateful opposition has blood on their hands”.

Fico was re-elected to the Slovakian leadership at the end of last year, having already held the post twice before. A n economically left-wing populist with a strong focus on border control and Slovakia for the Slovakians, he has been called “Slovakia’s Trump” in the past for his strong opposition to mass migration to Slovakia. The politician was also a strong ideological opponent of the coronavirus lockdowns, and in a remarkable turn of events was arrested on live television in 2021 for openly defying the then-government’s covid rules.

More recently, criticism of Fico from the European mainstream has focussed on his opposition to the war in Ukraine, leading to some to accuse him of being “pro-Putin”. Fico, for his part, strongly denied these assertions and stated he is not pro-Russian, just anti-war. Fico has recently suggested Ukraine should be willing to cede territory to Moscow to get peace, and has strongly rejected suggestions by French President Emmanuel Macron that NATO should deploy troops to Ukraine itself.

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