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Spotlight on Robert Fico, Slovakia’s Prime Minister, an international political figure whose assassination attempt shook world leaders

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Guwahati, May 16: In a shocking turn of events, Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico was hospitalized on Wednesday after surviving an assassination attempt that left him injured with five gunshot wounds. The incident occurred following an off-site government meeting in the central Slovak town of Handlova.

Reports indicate that the assailant, among a group of people waiting to greet the prime minister outside the cultural centre where the meeting took place, opened fire on Fico. Dramatic footage captured the prime minister being swiftly evacuated by his staff into a vehicle, which sped away to transport him to a local hospital. Fico was later transferred by helicopter to a major trauma centre in Banska Bystrica, approximately 20 miles away. Fortunately, no other injuries were reported in the attack.

Fico, a prominent figure in Slovakian politics, holds considerable influence as the head of government. Serving multiple terms as prime minister, he recently returned to power after winning a general election last year. However, his tenure has been marred by controversies, including allegations of corruption and connections to the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée.

The attack on Fico has prompted widespread condemnation from both domestic and international leaders. Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová denounced the assault as “brutal and reckless,” emphasizing the importance of preserving democracy and condemning all forms of violence.

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The incident has reignited concerns about Slovakia’s political direction, particularly considering Fico’s pro-Russian stance and criticisms of Western support for Ukraine. Leaders across Europe, including NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, have expressed solidarity with Fico and condemned the attack as an affront to democracy.

As investigations into the assassination attempt unfold, the international community stands united in its support for Slovakia and its commitment to upholding democratic values in the face of violence.

Who is Robert Fico
Fico is the most powerful lawmaker in Slovakia. Unlike the president, whose role has limited scope, the prime minister holds rank as the decision-making head of government.
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, a 59-year-old four-time premier who came back to power after his Smer-SD party won a general election last year, chaired a government meeting in the central town of Handlova.

Fico previously served as Slovakia’s prime minister for more than a decade, first between 2006 and 2010 and then again from 2012 to 2018. He was forced to resign in March 2018 after weeks of mass protests over the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová. Kuciak reported on corruption among the country’s elite, including people directly connected to Fico and his party SMER.

He joined the Communist Party before the fall of communism, earned a law degree in 1986, and was first elected to Slovakia’s parliament in 1992 with the Party of the Democratic Left. During the 1990s, Fico served as a governmental agent representing Slovakia before the European Court of Human Rights and the European Commission of Human Rights.

In 1999, he became chairman of the Smer (Direction) party and has been a key figure in it ever since. People often describe Fico and Smer as left populists, though some have also compared him to right-wing politician Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s Prime Minister.

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World leaders immediately condemned the attack, reactions from the world leaders
Slovak President Zuzana Caputova, a political opponent to Fico, condemned the “brutal and ruthless” attack on the premier.
“A physical attack on the prime minister is, first of all, an attack on a person, but it is also an attack on democracy,” Caputova said in a televised statement. “Any violence is unacceptable. The hateful rhetoric we’ve been witnessing in society leads to hateful actions. Please, let’s stop it.”

President Biden said he was alarmed to hear about the attack. “Jill and I are praying for a swift recovery, and our thoughts are with his family and the people of Slovakia,” Biden said in a statement. “We condemn this horrific act of violence. Our embassy is in close touch with the government of Slovakia and ready to assist.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg posted on the social media platform X that he was “shocked and appalled” by the attempt on Fico’s life. “I was deeply shocked by the heinous attack against my friend, Prime Minister Robert Fico,” Hungary’s Orbán said in a social media post. “We pray for his health and quick recovery!”

In Kyiv, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who’s military is currently fending off years-long invasion by Russia, also condemned the shooting, saying: “We strongly condemn this act of violence against our neighbouring partner state’s head of government. Every effort should be made to ensure that violence does not become the norm in any country, form, or sphere.”

Also Read: Indian Football Icon Sunil Chhetri Announces Retirement from International Football

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