the life of Prime Minister Robert Fico, victim of an attack, is no longer in danger – L’Express

Prime Minister Robert Fico in critical condition – LExpress

The life of Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is no longer in “immediate danger, but his condition remains serious and he requires intensive care”, Deputy Prime Minister Robert Kalinak told the press this Sunday, May 19. The Prime Minister has been hospitalized since Wednesday, when a man opened fire on him, hitting him several times, notably in the abdomen. He underwent a five-hour operation on Wednesday and a shorter one on Friday, both at a hospital in the town of Banska Bystrica in central Slovakia.

“We can consider his condition stable and the prognosis positive,” Robert Kalinak said outside the hospital. “We all feel a little more relaxed now,” added this close political ally of Robert Fico, specifying that the latter remained hospitalized for the moment.

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The assailant, identified by Slovak media as 71-year-old poet Juraj Cintula, fired five shots at Robert Fico, hitting him four times. He was presented on Saturday before the criminal court in Pezinok, northeast of Bratislava, which ordered him to remain in pre-trial detention.

Robert Fico, 59, returned to the post of Prime Minister last fall for a fourth term, after his party, Smer-SD, won the legislative elections. He campaigned in particular on peace proposals between Russia and Ukraine, a neighboring state of Slovakia, and on stopping military aid to kyiv, which his government subsequently implemented.

Deeply divided country

The assassination attempt deeply shocked Slovakia, a country of 5.4 million inhabitants, member of the European Union and NATO, which has been sharply divided politically for years. The outgoing pro-Western president, Zuzana Caputova, and her successor, Peter Pellegrini, an ally of Robert Fico who will take office in June, called on their fellow citizens to refrain from any “confrontation” after the shooting

They also called a meeting of all parliamentary party leaders for Tuesday to show unity in the wake of the attack, with Zuzana Caputova noting that the country needed “reconciliation” and “peace”. But the divisions did not seem any closer to calming down. Deputy Prime Minister Robert Kalinak immediately suggested that Smer-SD would not participate in this convened meeting while “our (party) president is in the hands of doctors.”

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And some Slovak politicians have already made accusations against their opponents, accusing them of being behind the attack. Robert Kalinak himself criticized opposition politicians and certain media on Friday for having described, before the assassination attempt, Robert Fico as a criminal, a dictator or a servant of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Several independent media leaders said they began to receive threats from readers very quickly after the attack, and to be overwhelmed by accusations from political allies of the Prime Minister. The revelation by Slovak media in 2018 of links between Robert Fico’s government and the Italian mafia sparked an outcry, ultimately forcing him to resign.

The journalist who led the investigation, Jan Kuciak, was assassinated following this publication. “The murder of Jan Kuciak was the breaking point. At the time, society was divided between them and us,” observes Matus Kostolny, editor-in-chief of the independent daily Dennik Nwho says he fears that this attack will encourage the government to further tighten its control over the media.