Slovakia Prime Minister in Danger: Assassination Attempt on Slovakia's Robert Fico Shakes Europe

PeopleOther ♦ Published: May 15, 2024; 23:02 ♦ (Vindobona)

A serious attack on Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico has shaken Europe. A 71-year-old man shot Fico after a meeting and is in critical condition.

Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico has been shot after a government meeting and his life is in mortal danger. / Picture: © Wikipedia / Dr J. Herbert

The attack took place immediately after Fico had left a cabinet meeting in Handlová, a town in the heart of Slovakia. A 71-year-old man, identified as J.C. from Levice, emerged from the crowd and opened fire on the prime minister. According to eyewitnesses, several shots were fired and Fico was seriously injured. The Prime Minister suffered gunshot wounds to the arm and abdomen and was immediately taken by his security service to a nearby vehicle and then flown by helicopter to the hospital in Banská Bystrica, as a trip to Bratislava would have taken too long.

Medical condition and operation

As reported by ORF, a hospital spokeswoman said that Fico was taken to the hospital in Handlova in a conscious state, his gunshot wounds were treated and his vital functions stabilized. Meanwhile, the prime minister's condition proved to be "life-threatening". The Minister of Defense, Robert Kalinjak, and the Minister of Internal Affairs, Matúš Šutaj-Eštok, informed the public about the critical situation. Despite initial reports that spoke of a stable condition, Kalinjak denied this and emphasized the severity of the injuries.

A post on Fico's official Facebook page also stated that he was taken by helicopter to the hospital in the town of Banska Bystrica, 30 kilometers away, because it would take too long to bring him to Bratislava, which is around 130 kilometers away, due to his condition. "The next few hours will be crucial," it added, as reported by ORF.

Political background and reactions

The assassination came at a time of political tension in Slovakia, particularly concerning the government's media policy and its pro-Russian tendencies, which were strongly criticized by the liberal opposition, as reported by ORF. Parliament and security measures were tightened immediately after the attack and the planned debate on the future of public broadcasting was postponed. Slovakian media reported that the shooter was a former security guard at a shopping center, author of three books of poetry, and member of the Slovakian Writers' Association.

International reactions after the attack

Reactions at home and abroad were not long in coming, as reported by ORF. Outgoing Slovakian President Zuzana Čaputová condemned the attack as an "attack on democracy" and called for an end to the violent rhetoric. International leaders such as U.S. President Joe Biden, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán also expressed their dismay and condemned the act.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) wrote on X (Twitter): "The attempt on the life of my Slovakian colleague Robert Fico shocks me deeply." Similar statements were made on X (Twitter) by many prominent political figures in Austria, including European Minister Karoline Edtstadler, Vice-Chancellor Werner Kogler and Social Democrat opposition politician Andreas Babler. The diplomatic community in Vienna also expressed its horror, condemned the act and reiterated its support for Slovakia.

While the Slovak nation and the world await further news on the health of Robert Fico, the question of the long-term impact of this assassination on the political landscape in Slovakia and beyond remains. The act has not only highlighted deep political divisions within the country but has also heightened concerns about the stability of democratic institutions in Eastern Europe. This event Robert Fico will undoubtedly be remembered as a dark moment in Slovakia's history, a moment that will hopefully lead to serious reflection on the direction in which the country will develop politically.

Slovak Government