Suspect Charged in ‘Politically Motivated’ Assassination Attempt of Slovakian PM

( – Robert Fico, Prime Minister of Slovakia, was shot five times on Wednesday, May 15th, in what officials are calling a politically motivated assassination attempt.

The shooting happened in Banikov Square in the town of Handlova following a government meeting. Video footage of the area shows the shooter stepping forward from a group of people standing behind a security barrier, lunging forward, and shooting Fico five times at close range. Fico fell backward into a bench. Security officers rushed to move the Prime Minister to a black car and rushed him to a local hospital.

Fico was airlifted to a trauma center in Banska Bystrica, a nearby city, where he was stabilized after enduring five hours of surgery for the multiple gunshot wounds. Mirian Lapunikova, the hospital director, said on Thursday that Fico’s condition was still “truly very serious” and he was being observed in an intensive-care unit.

The shooter has been arrested and identified as a 71-year-old man. Some media outlets have reported his name as Juraj C. from the town of Levice. The gunman is said to be a former security guard and amateur poet who disagrees with Fico’s politics. He is not known to be a member of any extremist groups and is said to have acted as a “lone wolf.”

Zuzana Caputova, President of Slovakia, said the attempt on Fico’s life is an “attack on democracy.” Russian President Vladimir Putin praised Fico for his pro-Russian views and called the shooting a “monstrous crime” with no justification. Prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban stated he was “deeply shocked” by the attack, calling Fico his friend. U.S. President Joe Biden called the attack a “horrific act of violence.”

The attack has sparked more division in an already divided nation. Fico’s deputy Tomas Taraba blames liberal political opposition for the attack. Fico’s right-wing party, Smer, is blaming the media claiming “hate speech” to be the cause. According to journalist Michal Hvorecky, Fico has played a part in creating the split between parties by “constantly pushing the boundaries” when speaking in public.

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