Capturing of PM blamed on ‘lone wolf’ amid tensions in polarized Slovakia

Slovak authorities charged a person Thursday with trying to assassinate Prime Minister Robert Fico, saying the suspect acted alone in a politically motivated assault that laid naked the intense polarization that has gripped the small central European nation.

Fico, 59, was in severe however steady situation a day after being shot a number of instances within the abdomen, a hospital official mentioned. President-elect Peter Pellegrini mentioned he spoke to Fico on the hospital however confirmed his situation “stays very severe.”

The tried assassination has shocked the nation and reverberated throughout the continent weeks forward of European elections. Whereas President Zuzana Caputova known as on everybody to take the chance to dial again the vitriol that has characterised the political debate, some authorities ministers took goal at Slovakia’s media for contributing to the fractious environment.

Inside Minister Matus Sutaj Estok requested journalists to “mirror” on how that they had lined Fico’s insurance policies. He referred to the suspect — who was charged with premeditated homicide — as a “lone wolf” who didn’t belong to any political teams, although he mentioned the assault itself was politically motivated.

Fico has pro-Russia, anti-U.S. message

Fico has lengthy been a divisive determine in Slovakia and past, and his return to energy final 12 months on a pro-Russian, anti-American message led to even larger worries amongst fellow European Union and NATO members that he would abandon his nation’s pro-Western course — significantly on Ukraine.

At first of Russia’s invasion, Slovakia was considered one of Ukraine’s staunchest supporters, however Fico halted arms deliveries to the neighbour when he got here to energy.

Fico’s authorities has additionally made efforts to overtake public broadcasting — a transfer critics mentioned would consequence within the authorities’s full management of public tv and radio. That, coupled along with his plans to amend the penal code to get rid of a particular anti-graft prosecutor, have led opponents to fret that Fico will lead Slovakia down a extra autocratic path.

1000’s of demonstrators have repeatedly rallied within the capital and across the nation of 5.4 million to protest his insurance policies.

Slovak police have offered little data on the identification of the suspect. At a information convention on Thursday following a gathering of Slovakia’s Safety Council, authorities ministers gave extra particulars in regards to the man, whereas nonetheless not naming him.

Estok mentioned that the person cited his dissatisfaction with a number of of Fico’s insurance policies as motivation for the assault. The minister mentioned presidential elections within the spring prompted the assault, and that the suspect had attended a current anti-government protest.

“I can affirm to you that the explanation it was a politically motivated, tried premeditated homicide is, because the suspect himself mentioned, the media data that he had at his disposal,” Estok mentioned. “I feel every of you possibly can mirror on the way in which you offered it.”

‘Step out of the vicious circle of hatred’

On the similar information convention, Deputy Prime Minister Robert Kalinak additionally blamed the media for tensions within the nation.

The tenor of these remarks stood in distinction to a information convention earlier within the day when the nation’s outgoing and subsequent presidents — political rivals — appeared collectively in an enchantment for Slovaks to beat their more and more tense political variations.

“Allow us to step out of the vicious circle of hatred and mutual accusations,” mentioned Caputova, the outgoing president and a rival of Fico’s. “What occurred yesterday was a person act. However the tense environment of hatred was our collective work.”

WATCH | Slovak PM hospitalized after tried assassination:

Slovak PM Robert Fico in life-threatening situation after capturing

Prime Minister Robert Fico of Slovakia has been hospitalized with life-threatening accidents after being shot in what his workplace described as an tried assassination. A suspect has been detained, native stories mentioned, as police sealed off the scene.

Pellegrini, the president-elect, known as on political events to droop or reduce their campaigns for European elections, which can be held June 6-9.

“If there may be something that the folks of Slovakia urgently want at this time, it’s no less than primary settlement and unity among the many Slovak political illustration. And if not consensus, then please, no less than civilized methods of discussing amongst one another,” Pelligrini mentioned.

‘The entire society will look into their conscience’

Zuzana Eliasova, a resident of the capital Bratislava, mentioned the assault on Fico was a “shock” to the nation and an assault on democracy at a time when political tensions have been already operating excessive.

“I consider that lots of people and even the entire society will look into their conscience, as a result of the polarization right here has been large amongst all completely different components of society,” she mentioned.

Medical doctors carried out a five-hour operation on Fico, who was initially reported to be in life-threatening situation, in keeping with director of the F.D. Roosevelt Hospital in Banska Bystrica, Miriam Lapunikova. He’s being handled in an intensive care unit.

Two men in white button-up shirts stand near a phalanx of microphones.
Slovakia Defence Minister Robert Kalinak, left, and Inside Minister Matus Sutaj Estok converse to media on the hospital in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, the place Prime Minister Robert Fico was transferred with life-threatening accidents on Wednesday. (Getty Pictures)

5 pictures have been fired exterior a cultural centre within the city of Handlova, almost 140 kilometres northeast of the capital, authorities officers mentioned.

Fico returned to energy in Slovakia final 12 months, having beforehand served twice as prime minister. He and his Smer occasion have most frequently been described as left-populist, although he has additionally been in comparison with politicians on the precise just like the nationalist prime minister of neighbouring Hungary, Viktor Orban.

Condemnation of the assault got here from each his allies and adversaries. On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin despatched a message to President Caputova, expressing his assist and wishing the prime minister a quick and full restoration.

“This atrocious crime can’t be justified,” Putin mentioned within the message launched by the Kremlin. “I do know Robert Fico as a brave and strong-willed individual. I actually hope these private qualities will assist him overcome this harsh state of affairs.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy additionally denounced the violence towards a neighbouring nation’s head of presidency.

“Each effort ought to be made to make sure that violence doesn’t develop into the norm in any nation, kind or sphere,” he mentioned.

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